Judge approves settlement in US Sugar lawsuit

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge in South Florida has approved a settlement in a lawsuit filed against U.S. Sugar Corp. by its employee shareholders.

The judge on Friday approved the agreement reached in October between plaintiffs and the nation’s largest cane sugar producer. It calls for U.S. Sugar to pay $8.4 million. If a planned $536 million deal with Florida goes through to buy 73,000 acres of farmland from the company for Everglades restoration, U.S. Sugar then would pay plaintiffs an additional $7.5 million.

The lawsuit was filed in 2008 on behalf of more than 4,000 employees who claimed U.S. Sugar’s board didn’t inform them of two buy-out offers before rejecting the deals. U.S. Sugar, which did not admit wrongdoing, is a privately held company owned largely by employees.