Two More Poultry Purchasers Cry Foul Over Broiler Chicken Price Fixing

Two new litigants have filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois against the broiler chicken antitrust defendants with the submission of abbreviated pleadings whose allegations mimic those set forth in the direct action plaintiffs’ Oct. 23, 2020, complaint. Now, Burger King’s exclusive supply chain management and distribution cooperative, Restaurant Services, Inc. (RSI) and another plaintiff, Red Bird Farms Distribution Company (Red Bird), seek reparations from the defendants for the broiler chicken overcharges.

RSI’s complaint explains that it acts as the purchasing agent for Burger King, the “second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world.” During the conspiracy period, the filing alleges, RSI contracted with the defendants to secure broiler chickens for the chain’s restaurants.

RSI noted that it contracted with various distributors to supply Burger King restaurants with broilers. Because the poultry was purchased on behalf of those distributors pursuant to their agreements, RSI explained that it also intends to litigate as the claim assignee of eight of its distributors.

In addition to the direct action plaintiffs’ claims, RSI pleaded a cause of action in the alternative to count one of that complaint, violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The alternative pleading accuses George’s, Koch, Perdue, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson of bid rigging in violation of the same provision. RSI allegedly derived this bid-rigging allegation from a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in October 2020.

Red Bird’s allegations are similar. Its complaint explains that its business is processing chicken for distribution to retail grocers and restaurants. Red Bird contends that it has been damaged by the defendants’ illegal actions through its direct purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of broilers chickens from certain defendants and co-conspirators.

Finally, on Monday, the court ordered the dismissal of The Amick Company, Inc., Amick-OSI Broilers, LLC, and Amick-OSI Processing, LLC pursuant to the direct purchaser plaintiffs’ notice of the voluntary dismissal without prejudice. In the three page notice, the movants explained that because these defendants have neither served an answer nor a motion for summary judgment, dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i) is proper.

RSI is represented by Carlton Fields P.A. and local counsel Sperling & Slater, P.C., and Red Bird by Williams Montgomery & John Ltd., Liston & Deas PLLC, and Gratz & Gratz PA. The Amick defendants are represented by Dykema Gossett.