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Solow Testifies In Price Fixing Trial

A jury awarded Maine's 500 wild blueberry growers more than $56 million Tuesday after concluding that three Down East processors conspired to fix prices in the late 1990s. The verdict, certain to be appealed, shook processors and growers alike in a state that produces 25 percent of all blueberries, wild and cultivated, in North America. After a two-week trial, a Knox County Superior Court jury decided in favor of the growers, one of whom had initiated the lawsuit three years ago. It became a class-action lawsuit as well as an antitrust case, so the $18.68 million in damages awarded by the jury is automatically tripled -- to $56.04 million. In the four years from 1996 to 1999, growers were paid a per-pound field price of 55 cents, 43 cents, 45 cents and 50 cents, the growers' attorney said. During the trial, the growers' expert witness, JOHN SOLOW of the University of Iowa, told jurors that the growers should have been paid an additional 19 cents, 21 cents, 2 cents and 16 cents, respectively, in those years.

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