MINNEAPOLIS – During preliminary approval last week, a federal judge in Minnesota granted a class action price-fixing pork settlement between JBS and the direct purchaser plaintiffs according to court documents.

Judge John R. Tunheim of the US District Court of Minnesota recognized the $24.5 million settlement between the two parties. The money must be put into an escrow account within 14 days of the court’s approval. The two sides first came to this agreement in Nov. 2020.

The judge wrote that the agreement “was arrived at by arm’s length negotiations by highly experienced counsel with the assistance of an experienced and nationally renowned mediator.”

He went on to say that “the court finds that the settlement agreement is preliminarily determined to be fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the settlement class.”

The fund will be used to compensate direct purchasers for damages suffered and expenses accrued including attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and the costs of notice.

Other companies named in the original complaint include Agri Stats, Clemens Food Group LLC, Hormel Foods Corp., Indiana Packers Corp., Seaboard Foods LLC, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods LLC and Tyson Foods Inc.

Last week, JBS subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. agreed to pay $75 million to settle price fixing claims made against the company by foodservice, institutional and retail poultry buyers.

The proposed agreement does not cover lawsuits filed by consumers and retailers which the court agreed to consolidate with the direct purchasers’ lawsuit.

In August of 2019, the court dismissed the lawsuits on the grounds that plaintiffs did not adequately prove parallel conduct enough to support an inference of a conspiracy. However, the court did grant the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaints.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in January.