Food Distributor Files Latest Pork Industry Antitrust Complaint

Riviera Beach, Florida-based Cheney Brothers, Inc. (Cheney) filed suit against seven pork integrator defendants and their subsidiaries late last week in the Southern District of Florida, alleging, as other pork purchasers have, that the defendants engaged in an anticompetitive conspiracy to artificially raise prices. Cheney was reportedly a direct purchaser class member whose claims were tolled during the pendency of the direct purchaser class action asserted against the defendants. 

Similar to the now well-known allegations that last year the pork integrators failed to secure the dismissal of, Cheney claims that Agri Stats, Inc. played a “central role” in the price-fixing conspiracy as an industry-wide statistics aggregator. In addition, the pork integrator defendants restricted the pork supply, thereby successfully affecting an increase in prices paid by purchasers like the plaintiff.

Further, Cheney claims that the conspiracy period, beginning in about 2009, was characterized by “the increased control over the breeding, production, growing, and processing of pork by the pork integrator Defendants through vertical integration… and the exclusive production contracts with hog farmers.” Without specifying an amount, Cheney claims that it sustained “substantial damages” as a result of the defendants’ stabilizing or increasing their profit margins, even in small amounts. Cheney’s complaint seeks treble damages and injunctive relief under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

The complaint follows an order issued last month granting preliminary approval to a $24.5 million settlement between defendant JBS and direct purchaser class members. That case and others are proceeding through discovery against the non-settling defendants.

Cheney is represented by Carlton Fields, P.A.