Area communities are receiving checks following a settlement in a lawsuit over high salt prices. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that his office is sending checks to 850 Ohio public entities as part of the $11.5 million settlement to resolve an antitrust lawsuit against Cargill Inc. and Morton Salt Inc. over past rock salt prices.
Locally, the Fulton County Engineer’s office will receive the most money at $13,984.80.
“Our salt settlement amounted to $1.72 for each ton of salt purchased over the 3-year period included in the law suit,” said Frank Onweller, Fulton County Engineer. “We were hoping for a little more considering we went from paying $40 per ton to $60 per ton during that 3-year period. But, we’ll gladly accept whatever we get. It’s better than nothing.”
Also receiving money as part of the settlement are Archbold, $3,122.67; Wauseon, $1,447.53; German Township, $1,159.88; and Fulton Township, Gorham Township, Swanton, and York Township with $500 each.
Swanton Township in Lucas County will receive $723.40.
Entities in 87 Ohio counties are receiving settlement funds.
“When I announced this settlement in June, I indicated my intention to return a significant portion of the money to local agencies and governments that buy rock salt,” DeWine said. “We know these agencies stretch public funds and taxpayer dollars as far as possible, and we hope this money will help them make roads safer for the citizens who depend on them.”
Attorney General DeWine’s settlement with Cargill and Morton Salt resolved a 2012 lawsuit accusing the companies of dividing up the Ohio rock salt market and agreeing not to compete with each other for public bids during a period ending in 2010.
Although Morton and Cargill admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $11.5 million to resolve the state’s case, just before a jury trial was set to begin.
Of the total settlement, about $6.8 million was available to local governments. Additional payments were allotted to the state’s largest single rock salt purchaser — the Ohio Department of Transportation ($1.7 million), the Ohio Turnpike Commission ($174,435), and, as required by law, the state’s antitrust fund.
Over the summer, the Attorney General’s Office encouraged Ohio public entities to submit a claim for a share of the settlement based on the total amount of rock salt they purchased from Cargill and/or Morton between 2008 and 2010, the timeframe for which the state could seek recovery in the case.
The office received eligible claims from 848 Ohio public entities, each of which is receiving a check. Distribution amounts were calculated at a percentage of an entity’s total eligible rock salt purchase. To ensure that no entity received a check for just a few dollars, entities were guaranteed at least a minimum distribution of $500, except for one entity whose total purchase was just $319.