Tyson Will Pay Over $220M to Settle Claims in Chicken Antitrust Suit

According to Tyson Foods, Inc.’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) report filed on Wednesday, the company has settled antitrust claims against it from each of the three classes of plaintiffs in the Northern District of Illinois broiler chicken antitrust lawsuit. 

The SEC filing said that the companies would pay to the classes “an aggregate amount of $221.5 million,” which would be placed on 2021’s first quarter financial statements. It explained that Tyson “does not admit any liability as part of the settlements,” but that it believed settling the cases was in the best interests of the company to avoid the risks and expense of continuing in litigation. 

Earlier this month, Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride came to a settlement with the direct purchaser plaintiffs, which includes restaurants and grocers who purchased chicken directly from the defendants. Pilgrim’s Pride announced that its settlement included paying $75 million, but Tyson had not at that point reported any amounts that they had agreed to pay. 

On Tuesday, the end-user consumer plaintiffs and the commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs each filed a notice of settlement with the Northern District of Illinois court. Each notice said that the parties are still finalizing the terms of the agreement and the legal documents, and that the class of plaintiffs would ask the court to approve the settlements soon. 

The consolidated lawsuit contains claims from hundreds of plaintiffs purporting that Tyson and other major broiler chicken companies conspired to artificially raise the price of broiler chickens, which are used for meat. Allegations against the companies say that they used the data sharing company Agri Stats to share information to their competitors and agreed to reduce production in order to artificially increase prices. Plaintiffs include individuals and chicken growers; restaurants, including Chick-fil-A; and grocers, including Target and Walmart. 

The direct purchaser plaintiffs are represented by Lockridge Grindal Nauen, Pearson Simon & Warshaw, and Hart McLaughlin and Eldridge; the end-user consumer plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; and the commercial institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs are represented by Gustafson Gluek, Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, and Wexler Wallace. Tyson is represented by White & Case and Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider