Dairies joust for school contract

Saturday, August 8, 1998

BY JANE PRENDERGAST
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON -- Two big local dairies are battling in court over which of them should provide milk for students in Kenton County schools.

Louis Trauth Dairy Inc. in Newport says its bid was the lowest and best, but the Kenton County Board of Education gave its milk contract to H. Meyer Dairy. That violated state bidding laws, Trauth says in its lawsuit, which should void the deal.

Suing with Trauth is Dan Smith, a Crestview Hills resident who pays taxes to the Kenton County school system.

The company wants a Kenton Circuit judge to stop the board from exercising the contract with Meyer and to stop it from violating competitive bidding procedures in the future. It also wants an order forcing the board to enter into a contract with Trauth, or an order that makes the board rebid the milk contract.

Neither Jed Deters, attorney for the school board, nor Superintendent Neil Stiegelmeyer could be reached for comment Friday.

The bid process, for the supply of milk and other dairy products, started in June. It covered the school year, which begins this month and continues through June 1999.

The lawsuit does not mention the amount of the contract.

Trauth has been in court before over milk contracts. It was among several dairies prosecuted in Ohio and Kentucky on charges that they conspired to rig bids for contracts to supply milk to various school districts.

Trauth management denied the allegations and won. The federal jury's not-guilty verdict was upheld in April by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trauth is owned by Suiza Food Corp. of Dallas, the nation's largest dairy company. Meyer, in Cincinnati, is owned by Chicago's Dean Foods Co.



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