Consumer Confidential: Milk lawsuit, sneaker settlement, toy recall


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Here’s your kitten-with-a-whip Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--A Los Angeles law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that various dairy companies and trade groups slaughtered more than half a million cows to inflate the price of milk. The suit filed by Hagens Berman alleges that the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes and Agri-Mark combined to form Cooperatives Working Together in order to fix the price of milk in the United States. CWT is a trade group representing dairy producers throughout the country who produce nearly 70% of the milk consumed in the United States. The lawsuit alleges that between 2003 and 2010, more than 500,000 cows were slaughtered under CWT’s dairy herd retirement program in a concerted effort to reduce the supply of milk and inflate its price nationally. According to the complaint, the increased price allowed CWT members to earn more than $9 billion in additional revenue.

--You don’t see this every day: A sneaker company will pay for people wearing its shoes. Well, sort of. Reebok will pay $25 million to customers to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that it made deceptive claims in ads that its toning shoes would strengthen and tone the legs and butts of those who wear them. The company is also barred from making any claims of the strengthening effects of the shoes unless it is backed by scientific evidence. Consumers will be paid either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class-action lawsuit.


--Heads up: More than 1.7 million toy workshop and tool sets from toymaker Little Tikes are being recalled because of choking concerns. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the play tool sets have oversized plastic toy nails that might get stuck in the throats of young kids. The recall is an expansion of a 2009 recall of about 1.6 million workshop sets and trucks with the same toy nails. The new recall involves an additional 11 models. Little Tikes has reported two additional incidents in which children choked when the toy nail became lodged in their throat. Both children made a full recovery. The incidents occurred before the 2009 recall.

-- David Lazarus