Restaurants Ask Court for Own Track in Broiler Chicken Antitrust Suit Over Defendants’ Opposition

Nearly two dozen restaurants have filed a reply brief in support of their motion to establish a separate restaurant direct action purchaser (DAP) track and to appoint liaison counsel in the massive price-fixing litigation underway in the Northern District of Illinois. The filing, submitted last Thursday, asked the court to grant the motion and seperate restaurants, including El Pollo Loco, Chick-fil-A, and Golden Corral, from the rest of the class based on the similarity of their claims and aligned interests.

The brief assailed the defendants’ oppositions. It argued that the broiler chicken producers do not raise any “legitimate concern[s] regarding case schedule, delay, or duplication.” Instead, the restaurants contended that the defendants simply wish to shut them down based on their recognition of how much stronger the restaurants’ claims are prosecuted together. 

The movants also accused the defendants of trying to force them back into the DAP class. This would allegedly blur the differences between them and the other plaintiffs, and provide the defendants “cover” to continue avoiding individualized discovery critical to the restaurants’ claims.

In addition, the brief stressed the relative size of the restaurants’ claims. It explained that five of the largest chicken restaurants in the country are among the movants. Together, they allege that they have purchased over $20 billion—or more than a quarter of the entire direct purchase class—worth of product from the defendants during the conspiracy period.

Currently, the class and defendants are briefing class certification and opposition thereto. Discovery is scheduled to close on June 11.

The restaurants are represented by Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP, Marks & Klein LLP, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter PLLC, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson P.A., Miller Law LLC, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP, Cotsirilos, Tighe, Streicker, Poulos, & Campbell, Ltd., Kenny Nachwalter P.A., and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.