JBS Settles With Another Class of Plaintiffs in Pork Antitrust Lawsuit

On Thursday, commercial and institutional indirect purchase plaintiffs asked the Minnesota District Court for approval of a $12.75 million settlement with JBS USA in a antitrust lawsuit alleging that JBS and other pork processing companies including Hormel Foods, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods participated in illegal antitrust activities. 

The direct purchaser plaintiffs already reached a settlement with JBS for $24.5 million, that settlement was given approval by the judge in January. The plaintiffs involved in the currently pending settlement include restaurants and other parties who purchased pork from entities other than the defendants which was initially produced by the defendants.  Specifically, the class includes Sandee’s Bakery, Joe Lopez, Ziggy’s BBQ Smokehouse & Ice Cream Parlor, and others.  

In a memorandum accompanying the motion, the plaintiffs explained to the court that the proposed settlement fits requirements, including numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. They claimed that it is within the range of possible approval, and should be preliminarily approved.

The purported antitrust activity occurred between 2009 and when the present lawsuit was filed. The group of indirect purchaser plaintiffs alleged that the defendants exchanged detailed and sensitive information which was not public through Agri Stats about pricing and demand, allowing the defendants to control the price of pork.  The plaintiffs alleged that they paid “artificially inflated prices” for pork.

Up to five hundred thousand of the $12.75 million settlement amount is meant to be used used for administrative costs, including giving notice to the class. A proposed plan for class notice will be filed by the plaintiffs separately, as well as a motion for the court to set a final fairness hearing. 

The class of commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs is represented by Larson King LLP and Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP. The defendants involved in this settlement, JBS USA Food Company, JBS USA Food Company Holdings, and Swift Pork Company, which is associated with JBS, are represented by Spencer Fane and Felhaber Larson