A group of consumers has asked an Illinois federal judge for early approval of a $104 million settlement with four poultry producers to resolve claims they engaged in a long-term scheme to fix prices for broiler chickens.
The consumers' request for preliminary approval of the deal comes a week after U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin approves a separate settlement under the massive litigation to end claims against Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride by a group of direct buyers.
The deal that the consumers, or end users, presented Monday to the court was reached with only some of the chicken producers roped into the case: Tyson Foods, Fieldale Farms, Peco Foods and George's Inc. The court has named Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP lead counsel supported by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC as additional counsel for the putative consumer class.
The motion says that the settlements, negotiated with each side acting independently, were reached with Tyson for $99 million, Peco for $1.9 million, George's for $1.9 million and Fieldale for $1.7 million.
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The litigation began in September 2016 when private plaintiffs began claiming the nation's largest broiler chicken producers coordinated and limited chicken production with the goal to raise prices and exchanged detailed information about prices, capacity and sales volume through data compiler Agri Stats Inc.
The U.S. Department of Justice also looked into anti-competitive conduct in the industry and revealed its investigation in 2019 when it obtained a discovery stay from the court overseeing the private litigation.
The end-user plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
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