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Chicken Cartel Case Gets Class Action Certification

 |  May 29, 2022

Poultry purchasers leading antitrust litigation over an alleged industry wide scheme to fix broiler chicken prices persuaded a federal judge in Chicago on Friday to certify the sprawling consolidated case as a trio of related class actions, reported Bloomberg.

Judge Thomas M. Durkin, writing for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, approved classes of direct purchasers like wholesalers, “commercial indirect purchasers” like restaurants, and end users like consumers.

Defendants, including Perdue Farms Inc and Sanderson Farms Inc, broadly contested whether the classes of plaintiffs could commonly show how alleged industry actions caused them harm. Some industry defendants have reached settlements with various classes.

Durkin in December approved $181 million in settlements involving end-user consumers. Tyson Foods Inc last year agreed to pay $99 million, and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp said it would pay $75.5 million.

Restaurants, schools, airlines and hospitals that serve chicken to individuals are among members in the indirect class, and the end-user class includes what the judge described as “nearly every individual consumer of chicken in the United States.” Thousands of wholesale and distributor chicken customers make up the direct-purchaser class.

In his ruling, Durkin said that “whether all defendants’ actions were precisely in lock step does not change the fact that supply decreased in historically unusual fashion from 2008 to 2019.”

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