On Tuesday, Tyson Foods filed objections to two motions regarding discovery as part of a large antitrust lawsuit against the company and others regarding broiler chickens. One opposition was a response to a motion to compel individual discovery filed by ALDI Inc. and the other was a response to a motion to compel a deposition for Tyson filed by Ahold Delhaize USA Inc.
The Northern District of Illinois antitrust lawsuit is a consolidation from numerous plaintiffs alleging that Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods, and other processing companies used Agri Stats Inc., information to artificially raise prices and charge grocers, restaurants, and consumers higher prices for chicken. In addition to these civil cases, the U.S. has filed a crliminal lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride executives and other alleged actors in the conspiracy.
These lawsuits have continued for multiple years, in its oppositions Tyson noted that during 2017 and 2018 it “spent scores of hours and millions of dollars searching for, collecting, culling, and producing documents” for the plaintiffs. Specifically, it said that Ahold Delhaize and ALDI have been granted access to over 1.3 million documents and has participated in multiple depositions.
In the opposition to ALID’s motion, Tyson argued that it is “belatedly” attempting to reopen the process of requesting discovery just 10 days before the fact discovery is supposed to end. It claimed that ALDI had eight months of discovery and that it “should not have waited until the close of discovery to try to carve out an ‘ALDI only’ track for continued discovery.” Additionally, they claimed that the motion could lead to an “avalanche” of discovery motions.
Tyson noted in the other opposition that Ahold Delhaize asked for additional witnesses for it to depose in retaliation, after the defendants asked for more discovery from the plaintiff in May. “Tyson refused to allow Ahold to hold Defendants’ legitimate, timely and proportional request hostage to Ahold’s retaliatory, untimely and improper demand,” the objection said. Tyson related that it is half of the size of Ahold Delhaize, but has “had ten times as many depositions and produced about 50% more documents.” Tyson further alleged that Ahold is not entitled to discovery specific to its unique claims and that the court has denied similar requests.
Each of these plaintiffs, Tyson reported, is one of 160 direct action plaintiffs and that these specific requests are “unduly burdensome and disproportionate to the needs of the case.” Additionally, previous plaintiffs have already requested, and been granted, additional discovery and depositions on behalf of the class.
Tyson is represented by Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP and Lipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis LTD. ALDI is represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth and Ahold Delhaize is represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth and Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter.