Judge Permits Majority of Unjust Enrichment Claims to Proceed in Indirect Purchaser’s Antitrust Case Against Turkey Integrators

More than two dozen unjust enrichment claims made by Sandee’s Catering will move ahead following an opinion and order by Judge Virginia M. Kendall on Monday. The case is one of several antitrust suits alleging that the nation’s largest turkey integrators colluded to fix and raise prices by agreeing, through defendant Agri Stats Inc., to exchange sensitive information regarding their turkey production and sales.

In October of last year, the court upheld most of Sandee’s complaint but granted the defendants’ joint motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment claims because they essentially were undifferentiated. The plaintiff subsequently amended those claims, and the defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings.

In their motion, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs failed to meet pleading standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and failed to state a claim under certain state laws. In particular, the defendants faulted Sandee’s for “repeating language across the unjust enrichment claims of various jurisdictions” and asserted that the plaintiff needed to further distinguish its claim. 

In response, Kendall remarked that “(t)his is more than the pleading standards require.” The court noted that while the amended complaint contains repeated language, “that may be more a result of the similarities of unjust enrichment laws across jurisdictions, than any pleading deficiencies on the part of Plaintiff.” The court did, however, dismiss with prejudice the plaintiff’s Florida and North Dakota claims after finding that those states’ laws bar indirect purchasers from raising unjust enrichment causes of action.

Sandee’s Catering is represented by Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca LLP and Clifford Law Offices.

The defendants are represented by Mayer Brown LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP, Greene Espel PLLP, Eimer Stahl LLP, Carpenter, Lipps & Leland LLP, Dentons US LLP, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Vedder Price P.C., Jordan Price Wall Gray Jones & Carlton PLLC, Venable LLP, Falkenberg Ives LLP, Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Lipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis Ltd., and Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP.