End-User Plaintiffs ask Court to Approve $104M Settlement in Chicken Antitrust Suit

The end-user consumer plaintiffs (EUCPs) moved for preliminary approval of settlement agreements with Tyson, Fieldale, Peco Foods, and the George’s defendants on Monday, that, if approved, will end more than four years of litigation. The filing asks the Northern District of Illinois to certify a settlement class consisting of people who purchased certain frozen chicken products for personal consumption in about two dozen states during the ten-year class period.

The settlement news comes after the EUCPs’ lead counsel, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, supported by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC and others, engaged in extensive discovery, and last October, filed a motion for class certification. The memorandum explains that these “icebreaker settlements,” reached with Fieldale for $1.7 million, Peco for $1.9 million, George’s for $1.9 million, and Tyson for $99 million, were borne from arm’s length negotiations that spanned several years. The EUCPs further argue that approval will strengthen their case against the remaining defendants. 

Also on Monday, Rabobank and its corporate family filed a motion to dismiss claims made by the direct action plaintiffs in the broiler chicken antitrust litigation. The 16-page memorandum in support of its motion asserts that “Rabobank does not buy, sell, produce, or distribute chickens,” and is instead “a multinational bank that lends money to certain chicken producers (and many other clients).”

The papers claim that Rabobank’s only supposed participation in the alleged conspiracy was to “make obvious statements derived from economic truths about the broiler chicken market.” Rabobank claims that these statements did not enable the conspirators to collude to reduce output, and simply echoed those put forth by other market observers. In turn, the defendant requests that the court dismiss the plaintiffs’ Section 1 Sherman Act and related state-law claims.

Rabobank is represented by Freeborn & Peters LLP.