Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings Enter Chicken Antitrust Suit

Sonic Industries Services (Sonic) and Buffalo Wild Wings became the next two restaurants to jump into the consolidated lawsuit purporting anticompetitive activity in the chicken industry. Each restaurant filed a complaint in the matter on Friday against a list of major chicken processing companies including Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride. 

Sonic explained that it was involved in contracts with some of the defendants including distributors who reportedly assigned their claims for the applicable purchases to Sonic for the purpose of litigation.  It filed the complaint on behalf of McLane Company, Merchants Foodservice, Ben E. Keith, Gordon Food Service, Nicholas and Company, Performance Food Group, and Shamrock Foods Company. Sonic and these distributors reportedly purchased broilers from the defendants and were charged more than they should have been because of the purported antitrust activities between the defendants inflating the prices. 

Buffalo Wild Wings said it was assigned claims related to its purchases on behalf of McLane Company as well as its distributor. Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings both joined the amended consolidated complaint for the direct action plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  This group of plaintiffs has already begun settling with some of the defendants. Other restaurants involved in the legal action include Chick-fil-A, Zaxby’s, and Wing Zone

These complaints along with others in the consolidated case alleged that chicken companies used data in Agri Stats to decrease production of chicken for meat while increasing the price. The plaintiffs are seeking an award of damages and a judgment in their favor. 

Recent filings in the consolidated chicken antitrust lawsuit are addressing whether the court should consider certain expert testimonies.  The defendants filed a motion on Friday asking the court to exclude Dr. Russell Mangum’s testimony from consideration in the indirect purchaser’s claims. The defendants alleged that the expert’s opinions did not correctly distinguish which actions were unlawful, includes irrelevant direct purchasers, and uses limited data. 

Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings are represented by Carlton Fields and Sperling & Slater