Chickens Come Home to Roost for Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride as Court Grants Final Approval in Price-Fixing Settlements


Direct purchasers of broiler chicken obtained final approval of their settlements with Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride, for a total of $155 million for the class. The direct purchasers alleged that Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and more than a dozen other producers of broiler chicken coordinated output restrictions and shared competitively sensitive information about pricing, capacity, sales volume, and demand using third-party data collector Agri Stats, Inc. Since the action was filed in 2016, four other defendants have settled with the direct purchaser class—Fieldale Farms Corporation, Peco Foods, Inc., George’s Inc., and Amick Farms, LLC. The direct purchasers’ substantial recovery from Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride brings their total recovery to date to $170 million.

Since the direct purchasers filed their case, the Department of Justice has also taken an interest in the matter. In 2019, it moved to intervene in the civil case and, in 2020, it indicted ten current and former executives from defendant companies. Among those criminal defendants were three Pilgrim’s Pride executives, including two former CEOs. Pilgrim’s Pride, itself, pled guilty to price-fixing and was sentenced to pay a $108 million fine to the government in February of this year. Even more recently, in May, a federal grand jury indicted Norman W. Fries Inc., (doing business as Claxton Poultry Farms) for its participation the nationwide conspiracy to fix prices on broiler chicken products.

Because the settling defendants were not the only alleged bad eggs of the chicken industry, the direct purchasers’ case will continue against the remaining chicken-producing defendants and their co-conspirator, Agri Stats, Inc.

The case is In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, No. 16-cv-08637 (N.D. Ill.). 
 

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About Raymond N. Barto

Raymond N. Barto is a senior associate in Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office. He focuses his practice on antitrust litigation.

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