CHICAGO – Chick-fil-A Inc. is suing 17 poultry processors for inflating prices for poultry the quick-service chain bought to make its popular chicken sandwiches and nuggets.

In a complaint filed Dec. 4 in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chick-fil-A said the company and other partners acting on its behalf “...bought billions of dollars’ worth of broiler chickens from defendants and their co-conspirators throughout the relevant period at prices that were artificially inflated...” due to the defendants’ conduct and suffered damage as result of the antitrust violations alleged in complaints already filed with the court.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted 10 former executives and managers employed at leading poultry processing companies including Bill Lovette, former president and chief executive officer of JBS S.A. unit Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. He was succeeded by Jayson Penn who was indicted in June. The DOJ also indicted Mikell Fries, president of Claxton Poultry.

“To ensure consistency in taste and quality of products served across multiple locations spanning multiple states, CFA Inc. negotiated and contracted directly with certain defendants for the production and supply of its chicken according to CFA Inc.’s unique recipes and specifications,” the complaint said. “These negotiations and contracts governed the price at which certain defendants agreed to supply the CFA Restaurant Group with broiler chicken.

“CFA Inc. provided certain defendants with instructions regarding each step of the preparation and packaging process for the chicken products sold by the CFA Restaurant Group, including the recipe for those products and specific requirements for packaging and labeling those products.”

Chick-fil-A joins other foodservice operators that have taken legal action in response to the price-fixing case. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store filed a lawsuit in US District Court of Northern Illinois on Oct. 19. White Castle and Golden Corral filed lawsuits on Oct. 16. Bob Evans filed its lawsuit on Sept. 4.