Perdue, Sanderson reach settlements in chicken price-fixing cases

Producers agree to drop their claims
calendar icon 8 March 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Food distributors that sued Perdue, Sanderson and other major chicken producers for alleged price-fixing have agreed to drop their claims after seven years of litigation, reported Reuters.

The settlement, disclosed in a Wednesday court filing in Chicago federal court, does not include any payments. Perdue, Sanderson and other defendants, which had won recent victories in the cases, agreed that they would not seek to recoup defense costs from the plaintiffs if they abandoned their remaining claims.

The claims that suppliers fixed prices for wholesale direct purchasers were part of broader — and still-ongoing — antitrust litigation involving price-fixing claims from consumers and commercial plaintiffs, including grocery stores.

The distributors had earlier secured nearly $285 million in settlements in recent years from chicken producers including Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride.

Representatives for Sanderson and Perdue did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The plaintiffs' lawyers declined to comment.

The distributors had alleged a years-long conspiracy by major suppliers to keep wholesale prices artificially high by curbing production and sharing nonpublic data about supply and demand.

None of the settling companies admitted liability as part of the proposed resolution, which they said served “to avoid the costs, expenses and uncertainties” of continuing the litigation.

The distributor plaintiffs include Maplevale Farms in New York, Pennsylvania-based John Gross & Company and New Jersey's Ferraro Foods.

Last October, Sanderson defeated the distributors’ allegations at trial, and Perdue and a group of other companies won a court order in June knocking them out of the case. The plaintiffs were in the process of challenging those results.

The food distributors said in court filings that overturning their losses would be a "significant" challenge and that the potential costs the defendants could seek against the plaintiffs were “substantial."

US District Judge Thomas Durkin set a March 14 hearing to weigh preliminary approval of the settlements.

The case is In re: Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:16-cv-08637.

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