Reserve Raisins Class Action

Reserve Raisins Class Action

Welcome to the Reserve Raisins Class Action Website

This website has been established under the order of a federal court to provide general information related to the litigation entitled Bruce Ciapessoni, et al,  v. the United States.

Please read the website carefully and fully. It tells you about the opportunity you now have to join a class action lawsuit that is currently pending before the Court.

If you are a grower, producer or other person whose natural seedless raisins were acquired by handlers and placed in reserves for the account of the Raisin Administrative Committee in the 2002-03 through 2009-10 crop years, you may opt-in to join a lawsuit.

The Court is neither encouraging nor discouraging individuals from joining this lawsuit. This website is intended to advise you of the litigation entitled Bruce Ciapessoni, Elisa Ciapessoni, Bob F. Hansen, Hansen Enterprises, R&H Agri-Enterprises, Eldora Rossi, Rossi & Ciapessoni Farms, and Rossi & Rossi v. the United States of America and of your rights. This includes the right to become a member of the Class or to do nothing and be excluded from the Class. Please note that this class action is different than most other class action lawsuits in the United States because, if you do nothing, you will NOT be able to participate in the lawsuit as a member of the Class.

What is this lawsuit about?

In 1949, the Secretary of Agriculture issued the California Raisin Handling Order (“the Marketing Order”). 14 Fed. Reg. 5136, 5136 (Aug. 18, 1949) (codified as amended at 7 C.F.R. pt. 989). The Marketing Order allows the Secretary to restrict the supply of raisins reaching the commercial market in a given crop year by ordering handlers of raisins to withhold a designated percentage of growers’ yearly raisin crop in reserve. The portion of the growers’ crop so withheld is known as the “reserve pool.” The Raisin Administrative Committee (the “Committee”) is responsible for administering the Marketing Order. If the Committee recommends a reserve pool, Marketing Order regulations require that, within three business days, handlers set aside the reserved percentage of raisin deliveries to establish a reserve in the percentage recommended by the Committee; the USDA, during the years at issue, would then publish a rule adopting the Committee’s recommended reserve percentages. This rule designates the percentage of a given year’s crop that is considered “free tonnage” (which can be sold freely in commercial channels), and the portion that handlers must reserve as “reserve tonnage.” Handlers pay growers for the free-tonnage raisins but not for the reserve-tonnage raisins delivered by growers. The Committee also decides how to dispose of the reserved raisins.

In certain crop years, including the 2002–2003, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2007–2008, 2008–2009, and 2009–2010 crop years, the Committee recommended and the USDA published rules establishing the Committee’s recommended reserve pool and, growers delivered their raisins to handlers. Under the Marketing Order, the handlers in turn separated free-tonnage and reserve-tonnage raisins, and paid growers only for their free-tonnage raisins. The Committee then administered the reserve.

On June 22, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Horne v. Dep’t of Agriculture, 135 S. Ct. 2419 (2015), a case in which an individual handler faced a fine for not complying with the reserve. In that case, the Court stated, in part, that the Marketing Order’s reserve-pool requirement was “a clear physical taking” in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause for which just compensation was due. The Ciapessoni plaintiffs contend that this statement applies to the claims of growers who did comply with the reserve. The defendant in Ciapessoni, the United States, contends that the Horne opinion does not apply to such growers in the Ciapessoni case to establish any “taking,” or any need for additional compensation.

Based on Horne, Plaintiffs, on behalf of the Class, bring this class action to recover what they allege to be just compensation for raisins produced by Class Members and, allegedly, subsequently taken by the USDA pursuant to the Marketing Order’s reserve requirement. Plaintiffs claim that they have been deprived of their property and are therefore entitled to just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The United States moved to dismiss on the grounds that all crop years other than the 2009-2010 crop year are barred by the statute of limitations. On November 29, 2016, the Court denied the United States’ motion to dismiss. The Court held that Plaintiffs may continue with their class action to try to establish a compensable “taking” by the United States of “reserve” raisins, and the amount of any monetary damages suffered by the Ciapessoni Plaintiffs that the United States should pay, for the crop years 2002–2003, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2007–2008, 2008–2009, and 2009-2010. The United States has reserved the right to appeal whether claims prior to the 2009-2010 crop-year are barred by the statute of limitations.

The United States has answered the Ciapessoni complaint. The United States denies that the reserve-pool was an unconstitutional taking without just compensation. The United States also contends that the members of the Class actually benefited from the reserve program by, among other things, the program supporting prices for free-tonnage raisins and sales of raisins that were higher than what those prices and sales would have been without the program.

On May 11, 2017, the Court entered an order granting class certification and appointing McDermott Will & Emery LLP as “Lead Counsel” for the Class and Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP as “Co-Counsel” (collectively, “Class Counsel”).

What is requested in this lawsuit?

The Plaintiffs who filed this class action—i.e., Bruce Ciapessoni, Elisa Ciapessoni, Bob F. Hansen, Hansen Enterprises, R&H Agri-Enterprises, Eldora Rossi, Rossi & Ciapessoni Farms, and Rossi & Rossi—seek the following relief on behalf of themselves and the Class:

How can I join the Class?

If you choose to participate in this lawsuit and to be bound by the outcome of this litigation, including by any and all decisions of the court, and potentially participate in any recovery that may result from this lawsuit, it is extremely important that you read, sign, and return a Class Action Opt-In Notice Form electronically via this website that Class Counsel has established for this litigation, or by mail or facsimile to Class Counsel.  The various locations and methods by which you may submit a Class Action Opt-In Notice Form are listed below:

By Internet: If you were mailed a Notice and Opt-In Notice Form you may file your Opt-In online using this website by going to the "Opt-In" section. 

By Mail:
Reserve Raisins Class Action
c/o KCC Class Action Administration
P.O. Box 404011
Louisville, KY 40233-4011

By Facsimile: 1-866-763-9933

If you did not receive a copy of the Notice, but think that you are an eligible participant for this case, please contact us for a copy of the Notice or download the Notice and Opt-In Notice Form available here

Deadline for Submission: In order to opt-in, the Class Action Opt-In Notice Form must be faxed, postmarked, or delivered no later than October 6, 2017. If you do not wish to participate in the lawsuit, you need not take any action.

What if I need more information or have additional questions?

If you have additional questions about this Notice, you may review the Case Documents on this website or call the claims administrator at 1-866-763-9930. If neither the website nor the claims administrator is able to answer your question, then you may contact Co-Counsel or Lead Counsel:

Noah M. Schubert, Esq. (Co-Counsel)
Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP
3 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1650
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 788-4200
nschubert@sjk.law

Christopher M. Murphy, Esq. (Lead Counsel)
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
444 W. Lake Street, Suite 4000
Chicago, IL 60606-0029
(312) 372-2000
cmurphy@mwe.com

Although the information on this website is intended to assist you, it does not replace the information contained in the Reserve Raisin Class Action Notice. We recommend that you read the Notice and other relevant case documents carefully.