Rose Acre Farms Inc. claimed in a brief filed on Wednesday in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that allegations that the District Court misinformed the jury are false and that evidence against them of price-fixing processed egg products is ambiguous and circumstantial.
The case began in 2008 when grocery companies claimed Rose Acre Farms was violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. They included two trade groups as defendants in the case, United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers. The plaintiffs, including Kroger, Safeway, HyVee, and other food retailers filed their brief on April 30 asking for a new trial in the case and that the district court verdict is vacated. They alleged that the district court did not properly instruct the jury that proof of one element would consist of a violation which led to the jury’s decision that the defendants were not engaged in a conspiracy.
Rose Acre’s brief alleged that the plaintiffs’ argument was presented as a single conspiracy with multiple components in their court documents and allegations, including in the argument they presented to the jury. “[The plaintiffs] repeatedly assured Defendants and the District Court that the conspiracy they sought to prove comprised all three components,” the brief stated.
The defendants argued that after a six-week trial, the jury found there was no conspiracy after one day of deliberation. Now the food retailers are arguing that the jury should have been permitted to find a narrower conspiracy. Rose Acre also claimed that the plaintiffs “misread” the jury instructions which said they did not need to decide that all the methods discussed were used and affirms that the jury answered saying that there was not a conspiracy so the current issue is not relevant.
The defendants asked the court to affirm the district court’s judgment in favor of Rose Acre. They also claimed immunity from antitrust liability because the United Egg Producers and its members are immune under the Capper-Volstead Act.
Rose Acre Farms is represented by Porter Wright Morris & Arthur. United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers are represented by Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders. A majority of the Plaintiffs are represented by Kenny Nachwalter.