The Georgia chicken company does not admit guilt in proposed $2.25M settlement.
CHICAGO – Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs (DPPs) in an antitrust class action filed against 14 broiler producers have moved the US District Court for Northern District of Illinois to approve a proposed settlement between DPPs and Fieldale Farms Corp. The settlement agreement states that Fieldale would pay the settlement class $2.25 million in cash and provide material cooperation in this litigation, according to court documents.

The suit, originally filed in September of 2016, alleges that the defendants conspired to fix, raise, elevate, maintain or stabilize the prices of broilers sold in the US. The DPPs, representing and on behalf of all direct purchasers of broilers in the US, allege the defendants implemented their conspiracy through coordinated supply restrictions, sharing competitively sensitive price and production information and fixing of the Georgia Dock Broiler price index.

As part of the agreement after negotiations with Fieldale Farms for the settlement, DPPs and the proposed settlement class agree to release claims against Fieldale that could have been brought by the alleged conduct in the complaint. None of the other defendants will be released.

Fieldale’s cooperation includes providing DPPs documents it produced to the Office of the Florida Attorney General in a related inquiry into the Broiler industry; producing Agri-Stats reports, phone records, ESI, and other documents; making five current or former employees available for interviews and depositions; and an attorney proffer to provide a description of the principal facts known to Fieldale Farms that are relevant to the conduct at issue in the litigation.

The settlement is a product of three months of negotiation between lead counsels and does not affect the potential full recovery of damages for the class under the antitrust laws.

The motion for preliminary approval of the settlement states that DPPs believe they have a strong case, but the proposed settlement mitigates the risk and cost of antitrust litigation. Fieldale maintains it did nothing wrong in the motion, but wishes to avoid the uncertainty of trial.