According to the Brazilian newspaper Diário da Região, the initial hearings related to the class action lawsuit against Jose Luis Cutrale, his son Jose Luis Cutrale Jr, and his family's multinational company Sucocitrico Cutrale started on June 21.
The plaintiffs are demanding damages related to the actions of an orange juice cartel that illegally created oligopoly conditions for Sucocitrico Cutrale (Cutrale), among other members linked to the cartel, by artificially reducing the volumes of oranges purchased, suppressing orange purchase prices, and imposing additional costs on independent farmers.
The plaintiffs are seeking to establish jurisdiction in the United Kingdom because Jose Luis Cutrale lives in London and the administration of his company is also carried out in that country.
The international law firm PGMBM represents the group of plaintiffs, made up of 1,525 independent Brazilian orange growers, 22 entities in the orange growing business, and a charitable foundation; all harmed by the cartel.
The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), the Brazilian antitrust regulatory agency, has already concluded that the defendants and other members of the cartel had unequivocally engaged in anti-competitive practices for several years.
In fact, in November 2016, the defendants and other members of the cartel signed termination commitments with CADE, in which they admitted to having participated in this type of anti-competitive practices between January 7, 1999, and January 24, 2006. They agreed to pay fines totaling 301 million reais for violating Brazilian antitrust law; however, the fine was an administrative sanction and was not intended to compensate people harmed by the cartel.
Pedro Martins, lawyer and partner of PGMBM, stressed: "Cutrale has admitted participating in anti-competitive practices in Brazil that have destroyed small and large companies, and independent producers, which in many cases went bankrupt."