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Mountaire Farms and Case Foods Settle Wage Suppression Lawsuit

 |  April 2, 2024

Meat processors Mountaire Farms and Case Foods have reached a settlement agreement amounting to $22 million. This resolves claims in US court alleging that the companies conspired to suppress wages of poultry workers. With this settlement, the total amount paid out in the litigation surpasses $217 million.

According to reports by Reuters, plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a request on Monday asking US District Judge Stephanie Gallagher in Maryland to preliminarily approve the settlements. These agreements mark the 10th and 11th deals in the ongoing case. Mountaire has agreed to pay $13.5 million, while Case Foods will pay $8.5 million, as indicated in the settlement papers. Both companies, based in North Carolina, have vehemently denied any wrongdoing, reiterating their decision to settle to avoid the costs associated with further litigation.

The lawsuit, initially filed in 2019, targets a total of 10 poultry processors. The plaintiffs allege that these companies collectively engaged in a conspiracy to suppress wages. According to the plaintiffs, in a competitive labor market, the companies would have been expected to compete vigorously for workers by offering higher wages and benefits.

Read more: Meat Industry Giants Face Renewed Antitrust Lawsuits

Attorney Shana Scarlett, representing the plaintiffs, emphasized the inherent risks in complex antitrust class actions, stating, “The plaintiffs can never be entirely assured of a finding of liability by a jury.”

As part of the settlement agreements, Mountaire and Case are obligated to cooperate with the plaintiffs by providing documents and other essential information. This cooperation is crucial as the litigation proceeds against companies that have yet to settle, including industry giants like Tyson Foods and others.

The preliminary approval of these settlements follows previous agreements, including a $60.6 million settlement by Perdue and a $38.3 million resolution by Sanderson Farms. Wayne Farms also agreed to pay $31.5 million. However, none of the settling companies have admitted liability in the case.

Source: Reuters