Additional Defendants Added to Direct Purchaser’s Chicken Antitrust Claims

On Thursday, three amended complaints were filed in the Northern District of Illinois consolidated chicken antitrust lawsuit by separate direct purchaser plaintiffs. The amended complaint added defendants, including Utrecht-America Holdings, Inc., and three of its subsidiaries: Rabo AgriFinance LLC, Rabobank USA Financial Corporation, and Utrecht-America Finance Co. 

The first amended complaint was filed by Campbell Soup Company and Pacific Foods of Oregon, the second by John Soules Foods and John Soules Acquisitions, and the third by Target Corporation. Each plaintiff incorporated the claims listed in the consolidated complaint for the direct action plaintiffs, in which they are each parties, as well as amended complaints filed previously by Sysco Corporation and US Foods Inc. 

According to the court’s response after the plaintiffs sought permission to amend their complaint, although the Rabobank defendants were not named in any of the complaints from the direct action plaintiffs, they have already been involved in the discovery process, so the addition will not cause the lawsuit to be unnecessarily delayed. The court also allowed the addition of two other defendants, Case and Keystone. in their response.  

Utrecht-America Holdings and its subsidiaries provide financial services. Robobank is a cooperative bank headquartered in the Netherlands which focuses on food and agriculture finance. The defendants purportedly aided in the antitrust activity and helped the other defendants increase the price of broiler chickens. Agri Stats, a financial data company, is another defendant in the lawsuit which was accused of aiding in the antitrust activities by allowing information about pricing and production amounts to be given to competing chicken producing and packing companies. The amended complaints did not make it clear whether the accusations against Agri Stats are similar to those against Rabobank. 

In the amended complaints, the plaintiffs asked the court again for judgment in their favor, an award of treble damages under federal antitrust laws, post-judgment interest, and attorneys fees. Each of the three plaintiffs that filed an amended complaint is represented by Boies Schiller Flexner.