An Illinois federal judge Monday gave a final signoff to settlements totaling $181 million that six chicken producers have agreed to pay to resolve claims that they conspired to fix the price of broiler chicken.
During a teleconference, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin granted final approval to the deals end-user consumer plaintiffs have reached with Fieldale Farms, Peco Foods, George's, Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, and Mar-Jac Poultry.
The settlements were reached with Tyson for $99 million, Pilgrim's for $75.5 million, Peco for $1.9 million, George's for $1.9 million, Fieldale for $1.7 million and Mar-Jac for $1 million, according to filings in the case. The end-user consumer plaintiffs are still pursuing claims against 12 remaining defendants, including Perdue Farms, Koch Foods and others.
Judge Durkin said Monday that the settlements were the best outcome for the end-user class plaintiffs, and that they've recovered more from the defendants than any other class. The cash form of compensation is better than any coupons that could expire, and they'll have plenty of time to put in their claims, he said.
These six defendants have agreed to cooperate with the plaintiffs by authenticating documents and providing witnesses for trial, which may be significant as the case moves forward against other producers, the judge said.
He also praised the "fairly extraordinary" notice plan, noting the difficulty of reaching millions of class members who've purchased chicken in different states over multiple years. Still, it's estimated direct email notice was delivered to more than 80% of email addresses, Judge Durkin said.
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The consumers are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
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