CHICAGO – An Illinois federal judge recently denied a request to combine two price-fixing class action lawsuits into the same case.

Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative Inc. asked the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, to hear a class-action lawsuit that was filed for turkey prices at the same time as one of broiler chicken prices.

Even with the motion, Judge Virginia M. Kendall clarified her position in the latest ruling.  

“This case and broiler chicken, although sharing some similarities in facts and parities, cannot reasonably be classified as related because they do not grow out of the same transaction or occurrence,” Kendall wrote in her docket entry.

Kendall also said that the broiler chicken cases have proceeded much farther in litigation than the turkey case so reassigning the case would not save judicial resources.

Defendants in the turkey case include Agri Stats Inc., Butterball, Cargill, Cooper Farms, Hormel Foods, Farbest Foods, Foster Farms and Tyson Foods subsidiaries.

According to the original complaint filed in Dec. 2019, Olean alleged these companies conspired to fix turkey prices. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit in June.

Judge Kendall also dismissed several complaints in October including unjust enrichments and consumer protection law violations.

Legal actions against major poultry processors have grown throughout 2020 with poultry company executives’ indictments by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Some notable indictments include Jayson Penn, Roger Austin, Mikell Fries and Scott Brady as part of a price-fixing conspiracy. In early October, a federal grand jury indicted six additional defendants as part of the DOJ investigation: Bill Lovette, Timothy Mulrenin, William Kantola, Jimmie Lee Little, Gary Brian Roberts and Rickie Blake.