On December 20, 2021, the Court granted final approval to settlements totaling $181 million with six poultry producers, Tyson Foods, Fieldale Farms, Peco Foods, George's Inc., Pilgrim’s Price Corp. and Mar-Jac, to resolve consumers’ antitrust claims that they conspired to inflate broiler chicken prices and that they unlawfully shared information through vendor Agri Stats, Inc. Litigation against the remaining Defendants continues.
On May 27, 2022, the Court granted class certification to the classes of direct purchasers, indirect purchasers and end-user consumers. In his 55-page order, Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the United States District Court for the District of Illinois not only certified the classes but also refused to exclude multiple expert opinions supporting the certification requests.
Cohen Milstein serves as Co-Lead Counsel in this litigation.
Defendants control nearly 90% of the broiler chicken market, valued at $28.7 billion in 2015. Plaintiffs are consumers who purchased raw whole birds and breast meat chicken at grocery stores and other retailers. They allege that Defendants conspired to reduce the supply of broiler chickens, in part by reducing the size of their breeder flocks, which lay the eggs that are raised into broiler chickens. This reduction ultimately resulted in significantly increased prices for consumers and record profits for Defendants.
Agri Stats, Inc. helped the broiler-producer defendants coordinate their supply restriction conspiracy and enforce their unlawful agreement. Agri Stats provided frequent reports detailing vast amounts of competitively sensitive pricing and production information from the Defendants. While Agri Stats ostensibly used these data to survey general trends in the broiler industry, its reports included such detailed information about the broiler producers’ businesses and facilities that they could identify one another’s costs and prices. Defendants were thus able to ensure compliance with their agreement to restrict broiler supply and raise prices.
On September 16, 2016, Cohen Milstein filed a class action antitrust complaint on behalf of consumers who purchased broiler chickens (i.e., chickens raised, processed and sold for meat consumption). Cohen Milstein filed an amended complaint with lead counsel on February 7, 2018. The consumer class filed for class certification on October 30, 2020.
The civil case name is: In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 1:16-cv-08637 TMD, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois.