Defendants Ask Court to Exclude Expert’s Testimony in Chicken Antitrust Suit

On Friday, the defendants in the large broiler chicken antitrust lawsuit asked the Northern District of Illinois to exclude Dr. Luis Cabral’s testimony, which was used by the end-user consumer plaintiffs. The agriculture and chicken companies purported that the testimony violates Federal Rule of Evidence 702. 

The motion was accompanied by a heavily redacted memorandum, which reported that the specific class of plaintiffs and the expert they choose, Dr. Luis Cabral, “have bitten off more than they can chew.” It further alleged that Cabral’s report “is fatally simplistic and violates multiple tenets” of the evidence rule and “betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of how Agri Stats and EMI data is compiled and used.” 

The defendants said the end-user plaintiffs had claimed that having third party organizations benchmark data, specifically Agri Stats, Inc. and Express Markets (EMI), was a breach of the Sherman Act itself. This is reportedly not alleged by either of the other two groups of plaintiffs, the direct-purchaser plaintiffs or the commercial and institutional indirect-purchaser plaintiffs. The complaints in the lawsuit purport that chicken companies artificially raised the price of chicken by lowering production, and used information from Agri Stats to facilitate the purported antitrust activity. 

The defendants claimed that simply sharing information does not constitute illegal antitrust activity, and that the class would need to show that in addition to the information sharing the defendants “entered into an agreement that caused anticompetitive effects that outweigh any procompetitive benefits in a relevant antitrust market.” 

Reportedly, the testimony from Cabral did not meet the standard for admissibility because it “misstates the record,” “relies on inadmissible and unhelpful … reasoning,” and Cabral admits that the class-wide evidence cited is “outside his expertise.” 

According to the memorandum, the class would need to answer that the defendants had an agreement which led to anticompetitive activities during the current class certification stage of the lawsuit, along with showing that the entire class was harmed by the actions. The defendants argued that the court should do a “rigorous analysis” of the class prerequisites. 

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