In re Korean Noodles Antitrust Litigation

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is this Lawsuit About?
  2. What is the Status of this Litigation?
  3. What are Korean Noodles (as defined for Direct Purchasers)?
  4. What are Korean Noodles (as defined for Indirect Purchasers)?
  5. What are Direct Purchases?
  6. What are Indirect Purchases?
  7. What is the Direct Purchaser Class Period?
  8. Who are the Defendants?
  9. Why is this a Class Action
  10. How do I know if I am included?
  11. How do I participate in the Distribution?
  12. How will the remaining Direct Purchaser settlement Fund be distributed?
  13. What happens if I do nothing at all?
  14. How do I request exclusion?
  15. May I object to the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund Distribution?
  16. When is the Next Hearing?
  17. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
  18. How will the lawyers be paid?
  19. How do I get more information?
  20. Can I update my address?
  1. What is this Lawsuit About?

    Plaintiffs in this case allege that Defendants conspired to fix the prices of Korean Noodles in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. The case is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and is known as In re Korean Noodles Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 3:13-CV-4115-WHO-DMR (N.D. Cal.).

    Both the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and the Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs filed complaints alleging that the Defendants conspired to illegally fix, raise, maintain, and/or stabilize prices of Korean Noodles purchased in the United States in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. These Complaints were filed on March 24, 2014 (Direct Purchaser Consolidated Amended Complaint) and on December 3, 2014 (Amended Consolidated Indirect Purchaser Class Action Complaint) (collectively, the "Complaints").

    The lawsuit claims that any person or entity that purchased Korean Noodles directly or indirectly from any Defendant during the Class Period paid a higher price than they otherwise would have paid in a competitive market. The lawsuit seeks to recover three times the actual damages that Plaintiffs allege the Defendants’ conduct caused, as well as injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs.

    On January 19, 2017, the Court certified a Class of Direct and Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs.

    If you were a Direct Purchaser (defined below) of Korean Noodles between April 1, 2003 and January 31, 2010, you may be eligible to participate in a class action settlement, as is further discussed below.

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  2. What is the Status of this Litigation?

    Direct Purchaser Class:

    On August 22, 2016, the Court approved a settlement between Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and defendant Samyang, whereby Samyang agreed to pay a class of Direct Purchasers of Korean Noodles $1,000,000 and to provide certain other consideration in settlement of the case against it. Approximately $350,000 shall remain in the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund, after payment of various expenses, including previously court-approved settlement administration fees and partial reimbursement of counsel’s costs, as well as service awards to the four named plaintiffs.

    On December 17, 2018, a jury verdict was returned in favor of the Defendants, and against Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs. Despite this verdict, the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund contains funds that must be distributed to eligible Class Members.

    Plaintiffs’ counsel is receiving no fees or further reimbursement of expenses in this case, but will petition the Court to award each of the four class representative Direct Purchaser plaintiffs a service award as compensation for the significant time and effort spent by those class representative plaintiffs in litigating the action.

    To take part in this distribution, Direct Purchaser Class Members must file a claim no later than November 13, 2019.

    Indirect Purchaser Class:

    On June 28, 2019, the Court authorized the funds remaining in the Indirect Settlement Fund to go towards (1) a cy pres distribution to charity, and (2) incentive awards to class representatives. The funds were distributed in this manner because, unlike the Direct Purchaser class, which had only hundreds or thousands of potential class members, the Indirect Purchaser class consists of likely millions of people who purchased Korean Ramen Noodles during the class period. The Indirect Settlement Fund was not large enough to distribute by itself; it was designed from the beginning to augment funds which might come from either a settlement or favorable judgment against other Defendants in the case. Since the other Defendants won a verdict last December, there will be no distribution or claim filing for the Indirect Purchaser Class.

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  3. What are Korean Noodles (as defined for Direct Purchasers)?

    For the Direct Purchaser Class, Korean noodles are defined as instant noodle soup products consisting of dried instant noodles paired with a seasoning packet and dehydrated vegetables, packaged in a bag (or pouch), cup, or bowl, and including but not limited to ramen products sold under the Nongshim and Ottogi brands.

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  4. What are Korean Noodles (as defined for Indirect Purchasers)?

    For the Indirect Purchaser Class, Korean Noodle Products are defined as Nongshim, Ottogi and Samyang branded bag, cup or bowl ramen, including fried, dried, fresh and frozen noodle products.

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  5. What are Direct Purchases?

    A "direct" purchase means that you bought one or more of the Korean Noodles from one or more of the Defendants. 

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  6. What are Indirect Purchases?

    An “indirect” purchase means that you bought one or more Korean Noodle Products not from one of the Defendants directly but, rather, from a grocery store or other retailer, for your own use and not for resale.

    To be valid, your indirect purchase(s) must have been made during the Indirect Purchaser Class Period of March 1, 2003 through January 31, 2010, and the Korean Noodle Products must have been purchased in the state(s) of Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or the District of Columbia.

    There will be no distribution or claim filing for the Indirect Purchaser Class.

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  7. What is the Direct Purchaser Class Period?

    The Direct Purchaser Class Period is April 1, 2003 - January 31, 2010.

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  8. Who are the Defendants?

    The Direct and Indirect Purchaser Defendants include Nong Shim Company Ltd., Nong Shim America, Inc., Ottogi Company Ltd. and Ottogi America, Inc. Previously, claims were settled against Samyang Foods Co. Ltd. Korea Yakult Company, who sells its products in the United States under the Paldo brand, was previously a defendant but has been dismissed from the lawsuit.

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  9. Why is this a Class Action

    In a class action, one or more people and/or companies, called class representatives, sue on behalf of people and companies who have similar claims. Together, they make up a class. In a class action, one court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves.

    The Direct Purchasers' class representatives in this case are plaintiffs The Plaza Market, Pacific Groservice, Inc. d/b/a Pitco Foods, Summit Import Corporation, and Rockman Company U.S.A. Inc.

    The Indirect Purchasers' class representatives in this case are plaintiffs Joyce Beamer, Kendal Martin, Anthony An, Eleanor Pelobello, Kenny Kang, Christina Nguyen, Thu-thuy Nguyen, Yim Ha Noble, Ji Choi and Charles Chung.

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  10. How do I know if I am included?

    The Direct Purchaser Class is defined as:

    All persons and entities in the United states and its territories who purchased Korean Noodles directly from Defendants Nong Shim Co,. Ltd,. Nongshim America, Inc,. Ottogi Co., Ltd., or Ottogi America, Inc. at any time from April 1, 2003 through January 31, 2010.

    The Class excludes the Defendants Samyang Foods Co., Ltd., Samyang (USA), Inc., Korea Yakult, Co., Ltd., Paldo Co., Ltd. And any of their current or former parents, subsidiaries or affiliates. The Class also excludes all judicial officers presiding over this action and their immediate family members and staff, and any juror assigned to this action.

    Any person or entity that fits this description and did not timely request exclusion from the Direct Class is a Direct Class Member, and is affected by the litigation. For purposes of determining whether you therefore a member of the Direct Class, you must have purchased either Nongshim or Ottogi brand Korean Ramen.

    The Indirect Purchaser Class is defined as:

    All persons and entities that purchased “Korean Ramen Noodles” in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia for their own use and not for resale, from March 1, 2003 through January 31, 2010.

    There will be no distribution or claim filing for the Indirect Purchaser Class. However, It is possible for you to be a member of both the Direct and Indirect Purchaser Class.

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  11. How do I participate in the Distribution?

    Direct Purchaser Class:

    Direct Purchaser Class Members may participate in the upcoming distribution of the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund and receive a share of the remaining Settlement Fund by submitting a Claim Form.

    The deadline to participate in the Direct Purchaser Distribution was November 13, 2019 and has now passed.

    Indirect Purchaser Class:

    There will be no distribution or claim filing for the Indirect Purchaser Class.

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  12. How will the remaining Direct Purchaser settlement Fund be distributed?

    Currently, there is approximately $350,000 remaining in the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund. Direct Purchaser Class Members are entitled to a proportional share of these remaining funds. This proportional share is based upon data from Nongshim and Ottogi which provided the total volume of class period purchases by each customer, and is calculated by comparing Direct Purchaser Class Members’ applicable purchases compared to the total volume of purchases by other eligible claimants who participate in the Distribution.

    Direct Purchaser Class Members may claim a share of these funds by timely submitting a Claim Form.

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  13. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    If you are a Direct Purchaser Class Member and you do nothing, you will remain in the Class, but will not receive any portion of any Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund. There will be no distribution for Indirect Purchaser Class Members.

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  14. How do I request exclusion?

    The deadline to request exclusion from either the Direct Purchaser Class or the Indirect Purchaser Class was June 9, 2017 and has passed. It is now too late to request exclusion from either class.

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  15. May I object to the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund Distribution?

    If you were a Direct Purchaser during the class period you can object to the Distribution or the proposed service award to the named plaintiffs. (You cannot object to the Settlement itself because it was already approved by the Court.) You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Distribution or the proposed service award. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter that includes the following:

    1. A statement saying what you object to in the Distribution or service award,
    2. Your name,
    3. Address, telephone number, and your signature,
    4. The reasons you object to the Distribution or the proposed service award,
    5. Proof that you were a Direct Purchaser, such as invoices during the class period showing that you directly purchased Korean Noodles from Nongshim or Ottogi.

    Your objection must identify this case and case number and must be filed with the Court at the following address, postmarked by November 13, 2019.

    Clerk of Court

    United States District Court

    Northern District of California

    450 Golden Gate Avenue

    San Francisco, CA 94102-3489

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  16. When is the Next Hearing?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 2:00 P.M. (PST) on December 11, 2019, at Courtroom 2 on the 17th Floor of the United States Courthouse, United States District Court, Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA. At this hearing the Court will consider whether the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund Distribution plan and the proposed service awards are fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Direct Purchaser Settlement Fund Distribution plan and/or service awards. The Court may change the time and date of the Fairness Hearing. Notice of any change will be posted at the courthouse and on this website. You may attend, but you are not required to do so. If you attend, you may ask to speak, but you don't have to participate.

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  17. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    The Court has appointed the law firms of Glancy Prongay and Murray LLP and Hausfeld LLP to represent the Direct Purchaser Class and has appointed the law firms of Izard, Kindall & Raabe, LLP and Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser, LLP to represent the Indirect Purchaser Class. 

    These lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

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  18. How will the lawyers be paid?

    To date, Class Counsel have not been paid any attorneys’ fees, are prosecuting the litigation on a wholly contingent fee basis, and do not intend to seek any payment of attorneys’ fees at this time.

    Class Counsel obtained permission to use a portion of funds from a previous settlement to reimburse past and future expenses incurred in prosecuting the lawsuit. Class Members shall have no obligation to pay any fees or expenses of Class Counsel. Any fees and expenses will be paid only out of settlement funds or funds obtained in judgment.

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  19. How do I get more information?

    This website summarizes the litigation and your options as a Class Member. You can learn more about the litigation by writing to Korean Noodles Antitrust Litigation, c/o KCC Class Action Services, P.O. Box 43434, Providence, RI 02940-3434.

    You may also access the Court docket in this case through the Court's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Phillip Burton Building & United States Courthouse, 16th Floor, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.

     

    PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK'S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE CASE

     

    You may also write to Class Counsel at the following addresses:

    For Direct Purchaser Class Members:

    Lee Albert

    GLANCY PRONGAY & MURRAY LLP

    230 Park Avenue, Suite 530

    New York, NY 10168

    Christopher Lebsock

    HAUSFELD LLP

    600 Montgomery St., Suite 3200

    San Francisco, CA 94104

     

     

    For Indirect Purchaser Class Members: 

    Daniel E. Birkhaeuser

    BRAMSON, PLUTZIK, MAHLER & BIRKHAEUSER, LLP

    2125 Oak Grove Road, Suite 120

    Walnut Creek, CA 94598

    Robert A. Izard

    IZARD KINDALL & RAABE LLP

    29 South Main Street, Suite 305

    West Hartford, CT 06107

    

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  20. Can I update my address?

    Yes. If your address changes, please contact the Class Administrator at info@ramenclassaction.com or by mail at Korean Noodles Antitrust Litigation, c/o KCC Class Action Services, P.O. Box 43434, Providence, RI 02940-3434.

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