January 20, 2021

Tyson Foods has settled with three proposed classes of consumers in a long-running multidistrict litigation over alleged price-fixing in the broiler chicken industry for $221.5 million, the company disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday.

The company said it had agreed to "settle all class claims" with direct purchasers, commercial and institutional indirect purchasers, and end-user consumers of broiler chickens, who claimed they were affected by anti-competitive conduct from the nation's largest broiler chicken producers, including Tyson.

The more than $200 million deal represents the aggregate sum to be paid, the company said, to settle "all outstanding claims brought" by the three putative classes.

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The U.S. Department of Justice also looked into anti-competitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry and revealed its investigation in 2019 when it obtained a discovery stay from the court overseeing the private litigation.

The DOJ's probe resulted in the indictment of four poultry executives last year, including the sitting president and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride and the president of Claxton Poultry, over allegations they participated in a scheme to rig bids and fix prices for broiler chickens. Tyson then disclosed its cooperation with the investigation and said it is applying for leniency.

The department indicted six more individuals four months later, including former Tyson Foods sales executive Timothy R. Mulrenin and a few individuals connected to Pilgrim's Pride. The federal enforcers and Pilgrim's Pride reached a deal shortly thereafter, specifying that the producer must pay a penalty of more than $110.5 million and cooperate with the investigation.

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The end-user plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

The complete article can be viewed here.