Tyson Foods moves price-fixing case to Illinois court

by Erica Shaffer
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A federal judge overturns a previous ruling that denied the company's request to move the lawsuit.
MIAMI – A federal court judge in Florida granted a motion by Tyson Foods Inc. to transfer an antitrust lawsuit to a federal court in Illinois.

The case involves Chicken Kitchen USA LLC, a restaurant franchisor and broiler chicken buyer, which brought the case on April 21. Chicken Kitchen alleged that Tyson and its subsidiaries Tyson Chicken Inc., Tyson Breeders Inc. and Tyson Poultry Inc., conspired with others to fix the price of broiler chickens “…by secretly and illegally sharing information and then using that information to coordinate output and manipulate relevant price indices,” court documents state.

In response, Tyson moved to transfer the case to the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which already had consolidated 12 “factually similar” cases filed in that district into three class action cases. Part of that litigation is Maplevale Farms, a food distributor. Maplevale filed an antitrust lawsuit against Tyson and 14 other poultry companies alleging that the companies conspired to “fix, raise, maintain and stabilize,” prices for broiler chickens.

On Aug. 9, US Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres denied Tyson’s motion to move the case, saying the company was required to file a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Tyson Foods appealed arguing that the Magistrate judge misapplied multidistrict litigation law, and US District Court Judge Kathleen Williams agreed and granted Tyson’s motion to transfer the case to Illinois.

In August, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in August, declined enforcement action against Tyson regarding antitrust allegations.

The case is Chicken Kitchen USA, LLC v. Tyson Foods, Inc. et al, case number 1:17-cv-21503, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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