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Infant formula price-fixing case goes to N.C....

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RALEIGH (AP) — Some North Carolina charitieswould share$740,000 worth of infant formula under a proposed settlement in amulti-state infant formula price-fixing case.

The deal is part of a $64 million agreement reached earlierthisyear with plaintiffs in 16 states who had joined a class-actionlawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and the Mead Johnson subsidiaryBristol-Myers Squibb.

Abbott produces Similac and Mead Johnson makes Enfamil brandinfant formula.

The North Carolina settlement is scheduled to go before JacksonCounty Superior Court Judge Marlene Hyatt on Friday, according tothe court clerk's office in Sylva.

The lawsuit claimed the companies caused infant formula pricesto rise 120 percent in the past 10 years, while the price of milk -formula's principal ingredient - rose only 36 percent.

Dr. Mike Waldon, a professor of economics, explained the ramificationsof the alleged violation, and of the case.

Under terms of the settlement, the companies do not admit toprice-fixing.

The case was a class-action brought by individual plaintiffs,said Dan Small, an attorney with Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Tollin Washington, D.C.

In North Carolina, the lead plaintiffs are identified asSuzanneHyde and Lynn Meeks.

In nine states, consumers will get money from the settlement.InNorth Carolina and five other states, the money or formula productswill be given to charity.

Meanwhile, the reports of the settlements in which consumersgetmoney prompted a flood of calls to North Carolina healthdepartments, social services offices and even the state attorneygeneral's office Wednesday.

Questions about the North Carolina case were referred to RustConsulting Inc. in Minneapolis, but no one was available thereWednesday who could provide details.

Pete Paradossi, spokesman for Bristol-Myers, said Tuesday thecompany still denies any wrongdoing. Bristol-Myers is paying $31.8million in cash and products. Rhonda Luniak, spokeswoman for AbbottLaboratories, said her company had agreed to settlements totaling$32.5 million nationwide. Questions about the settlement? Call 1-612-359-2064Or write:

Settlement Administration, Infant Formula Litigation,P.O.Box 1602, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1602.

Send a self-addressed stampedenvelope and a letter naming the state where the formula waspurchased.

By SUE PRICE WILSON,Associated Press WriterCopyright ©1996 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.

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