Another Restaurant Joins Consolidated Chicken Antitrust Suit

Zaxby’s, a fast-casual restaurant specializing in chicken, joined a Northern District of Illinois consolidated antitrust lawsuit against the chicken industry, adding its claims to those of many other companies, including Chick-fil-A, Campbell Soup, and Walmart. The suit accuses chicken processing giants of artificially increasing the price of broiler chicken. 

The company filed a complaint on Wednesday and later that day filed a motion to reassign its complaint into the consolidated action, citing that its claims are related to the others in the lawsuit. 

The Georgia-based restaurant reportedly has over 500 restaurants with the Zaxby’s brand throughout the United States where the company’s proprietary chicken products are sold.  Zaxby’s explained in its complaint that it typically contracts to purchase broiler chickens directly with at least one of the defendants. Under the contract, the defendant produces chicken according to the unique recipes and packaging and labeling needed by Zaxby’s. The plaintiff said it purchased “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Broilers” from the defendants during the conspiracy period under these contracts. The contracts also included pricing and the amount of chicken the company would purchase. 

The restaurant claimed that it paid more than was reasonable for the chicken it needed, and has been injured as a result of the purported “anticompetitive and unlawful conduct” of the defendants, including, among many others, Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, and Pilgrim’s Pride. Some defendants, including Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride, have already begun to settle the claims against them. 

Zaxby’s joined in Count I of the consolidated complaint for the direct action plaintiffs, violations of the Sherman Act, and anticompetitive conduct. The company asked the court to award it damages, post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees, and other costs. 

The plaintiff is represented by Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP and Marks & Klein, LLP