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Billion-dollar corporate dispute settled in the middle of trial

Michigan businesses often strive for certainty, whether it be in economic conditions or in other factors that impact the businesses' bottom line. This preference for certainty can play a part when it comes to business litigation as well, as companies often want to resolve a corporate dispute in a way that gives them control and certainty over the outcome.

For instance, a dispute between sugar processors and the makers of high fructose corn syrup recently was settled in the middle of a trial. The sugar processors were requesting $1.5 billion against agribusiness companies based on a false advertising claim. In particular, the sugar processors claimed they lost money due to an ad campaign from corn refiners that rebranded the high fructose corn syrup as corn sugar. The corn refiners filed a counterclaim for $530 million based on statements made by the sugar industry about high fructose corn syrup.

The case was settled, although the terms of the settlement were not made public. However, by settling the matter, both sides avoided having the case go to a jury verdict, with the uncertain result potentially having adverse consequences for either side.

The case is a reminder of how even the most bitter and high stakes disputes can be resolved by the parties under the right circumstances. Of course, the decision of whether or not to settle belongs to the business involved in the dispute. On certain occasions, it may be preferable to settle a matter early on after the dispute arises, or even before litigation is commenced. In other matters, the decision to settle may not be made until later on, including even during a trial. Ultimately, the decision of whether and when to settle will be based on the particular facts and circumstances of each case.

Source: 9 and 10 News, "Sugar, corn industries settle sweetener spat; terms secret," Brian Melley, Nov. 20, 2015

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