CHICAGO – Lawyers for Fieldale Farms Corp. and the plaintiffs in a price-fixing lawsuit against Fieldale and several major meat processing firms filed motions for final approval of a settlement that would release Fieldale from the lawsuit.
The complaint, originally filed in September 2016, alleges that major companies, including Koch Foods Inc., Sanderson Farms Inc., Tyson Foods Inc. and others, used coordinated supply restrictions to manipulate prices for broiler chickens. The lawsuit also claims the companies shared price and product information provided by AgriStats Inc. — which also was named in the lawsuit — to fix the Georgia Dock broiler price index, according to court documents.
Fieldale paid $2.25 million into an interest-bearing escrow account in August 2017 after the settlement was reached, according to court documents.
The settlement obligates Fieldale to provide material cooperation to the plaintiffs as they pursue their claims against the poultry companies named in the lawsuit, court documents show. This includes providing documents Fieldale produced for the Florida Attorney General’s Office in a related investigation into price-fixing in the broiler industry; Agri-Stats reports, phone records and other documents. Additionally, Fieldale will make some of its employees available for interviews and depositions and an attorney to provide a description of the principal facts known to Fieldale Farms that are relevant to the conduct in question.
Court documents state the settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.
“Despite its belief that it is not liable for, and has strong defenses to, the claims asserted by Plaintiffs, [Fieldale Farms] desires to settle the action to avoid the further expense, inconvenience, disruption, and burden of this litigation and any other present or future litigation arising out of the facts that gave rise to this litigation, to avoid the risks inherent in uncertain complex litigation and trial, and thereby to put to rest this controversy,” court documents state.
The original case is Maplevale Farms Inc. v. Koch Foods Inc. et al, case number 1:16-cv-08637, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.