MUSKOGEE, OKLA. – Tyson Foods Inc. has reached a proposed agreement to pay $21 million to a group of broiler chicken producers that accused the company of suppressing compensation paid to them as part of a conspiracy with other processors. Plaintiffs in the case asked a federal judge to approve the settlement and certify the class to be compensated.
Plaintiffs Haff Poultry Inc., Nancy Butler, Johnny Upchurch, Jonathan Walters, Myles Weaver, Melissa Weaver, Marc McEntire, Karen McEntire, Mitchell Mason, Anna Mason, Barry Mason, Jonathan Tipton, and Henry Randall Colvin filed their first complaint in the lawsuit more than four years ago, on Jan. 27, 2017. The plaintiffs allege that Tyson Foods and 17 co-conspirators, including Perdue Foods LLC and other leading poultry processors, engaged in an overarching conspiracy to suppress compensation paid to broiler farmers nationwide in violation of the Sherman Act and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
In addition to paying $21 million in cash, Tyson agreed to provide:
- A reasonably detailed description of the principal facts known to Tyson to be relevant to plaintiffs’ claims;
- Additional information relevant to plaintiffs’ claims through Tyson’s counsel interviews of up to 30 Tyson employees to be chosen by plaintiffs;
- Declarations from Tyson witnesses to establish facts relevant to plaintiffs’ claims;
- Depositions of multiple Tyson witnesses to establish facts relevant to plaintiffs’ claims;
- Additional documents relevant to plaintiffs’ claims;
- Additional structured data relevant to plaintiffs’ claims;
- Explanations of Tyson’s structured data and answers to plaintiffs’ questions about that data;
- Trial witnesses, who would otherwise be beyond the court’s subpoena power, available for plaintiffs’ case; and
- Additional declarations, affidavits, or witnesses to authenticate documents.
“This cooperation — some of which is available to plaintiffs already, and all of which will be made available to plaintiffs if the court grants preliminary approval of the settlement — will be valuable to plaintiffs and the class as this case continues into deposition practice, class certification, summary judgment, and trial,” the court document stated.
The plaintiffs also notified the court of an agreement reached with Perdue to settle all claims against that company, stating in a separate filing that the plaintiffs and Perdue are working to finalize and document the terms of the proposed settlement.