CHICAGO – Lawyers representing foodservice and institutional buyers of poultry filed a motion asking for more than $35 million in attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses for their work on a class action lawsuit against several major poultry processors that led to a settlement.
The law firms of Gustafson Gluek PLLC, Crotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP (co-lead counsel) and Wexler Boley & Elgersma LLP (liaison counsel) filed the request in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
After five years of litigation, the law firms secured a settlement from Amick Farms LLC, Fieldale Farms Corp., Mar-Jac, Peco Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., George’s, and Tyson Foods Inc. The companies agreed to pay $104,890,000 into a settlement fund. The law firms are seeking attorneys’ fees not to exceed 35% of that settlement fund and reimbursement of litigation expenses not to exceed $10,658,854.
The law firms also are seeking $15,000 for each class representative “for their considerable time and effort in supporting the case.”
“The Class Representatives have thus far undertaken substantial and invasive work, at a risk to themselves and their business,” according to the court document. “The Class Representatives are all small businesses, many are owner-operated, and many have only a handful of employees. Every Class Representative spent numerous hours searching their offices and homes to provide documents and information in response to discovery requests propounded by the Defendants.
“Often, the corporate representative of the Class Representative was the owner and chef, meaning the restaurant had to be closed or operated with limited resources while the deposition took place,” the motion said. “The Class Representatives also risked potential retaliatory actions taken up the distribution chain for their involvement in this litigation.”
In November of 2021, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC asked for nearly $60 million in attorney’s fees and reimbursement of $8.75 million for out-of-pocket litigation expenses for their work to secure settlements totaling $181 million for end-user consumer plaintiffs in the broiler chicken antitrust lawsuit.