Case Details

Year Initiated/Committed


Year Resolved



Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

Docket Number


Lead State


Participating States



Daicel Chemical Industries, Ltd., Eastman Chemical Company, Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Nutrinova Nutrition Specialties & Food Ingredients, GmbH, Hoechst Celanese Corporation, a/k/a CNA Holdings, Inc., Nutrinova, Inc., Celanese Ag, Aventis, S.A., Nippon Gohsei, a/k/a Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., and Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry, Ltd.

Case Description

New York charged manufacturers and distributors of food additives with unlawfully restraining competition in the United States and elsewhere by entering into a conspiracy to fix the price of sorbates and to allocate market share among themselves. Sorbates are preservatives widely used to inhibit the growth of microbes in food and beverage products, such as cheese and other dairy products, baked goods, processed foods, fruit juices and soft drinks. All five manufacturers earlier pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought by the United States Department of Justice, and paid criminal fines totaling $132 million. New York sought restitution, damages and civil penalties on behalf of damaged consumers in New York. According to the suit, the defendants’ price-fixing conspiracy, which began in 1979, increased the prices paid to purchase sorbates used to produce many everyday items offered for sale to consumers. Companies that directly purchased sorbates passed on all or part of their added costs, which caused New York consumers to overpay. The lawsuit sought an award of treble damages, as well as restitution, civil penalties and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed the complaint on various grounds.