Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms secured their settlement from antitrust litigation over an alleged industrywide scheme to drive down pay for chicken farmers, when a federal judge in Oklahoma approved settlements worth a combined $35.75 million.
Judge Robert J. Shelby signed off Feb. 18 on the two agreements—a $21 million deal with Tyson and a $14.75 million pact with Perdue—which resolve class action claims brought against them on behalf of chicken growers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
The settlements call for the companies to refrain from enforcing arbitration clauses or class action waivers for five years, and to cooperate against the other poultry processors named as defendants: affiliates of Koch Foods Inc., JBS SA subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., and Sanderson Farms Inc.
Shelby also handed $11.9 million in legal fees and $2.3 million in expense reimbursement to class counsel for the farmers, saying the one-third award “is well within the applicable range” established in similar cases.
The multidistrict lawsuit identifies other companies as co-conspirators, though not as defendants.
It’s part of a wave of cartel cases involving livestock and protein, including beef, turkey, pork, tuna, salmon, and eggs. Most of the suits allege price-fixing schemes centering on unlawful exchanges of sensitive information through Agri Stats Inc., which compiles farm sector databases.
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