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Hurricane Katrina

$700,000 from lawsuit will help Katrina victims

A federal judge orders the donation of money left over from the settlement of a 1991 case.

By Associated Press
Published September 18, 2005

PENSACOLA - The American Red Cross relief fund for Hurricane Katrina victims will receive $700,000 that remain from an antitrust lawsuit that was settled more than 10 years ago, a federal judge has ruled.

"I have determined that these funds can best be allocated . . . in alleviating the pain and suffering of, and furnishing some of the basic needs of, the victims of Hurricane Katrina," U.S. Senior District Judge Maurice Paul in Tallahassee wrote in an order dated Sept. 8.

In 1991, hundreds of retail drug and grocery chain stores sued three companies they claimed were conspiring to drive up the price of infant formula.

The case was settled in 1993. Two years later, more than $91 million was distributed to the purchasers. An additional $940,000 was set aside for various purposes, including the payment of people who submitted their claims late, plaintiffs' attorneys said.

But by February 2000, no additional claims had been made. Paul then ruled that the money, minus certain expenses, should be distributed for a purpose similar to that represented by those who sued.

"The complaint in this case alleged injury to consumers of infant formula, through alleged unfair pricing," he wrote. "Likewise, one of the challenges faced by rescue workers in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina is providing essential food and drink to the victims of the storm.

Laddie Montague and Richard Arnold, two plaintiffs' attorneys, praised the judge's decision.

[Last modified September 18, 2005, 02:15:36]

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