Consolidated Chicken Antitrust Case to Proceed to Class Certification

A Stipulation and Proposed Order was filed on Thursday in the Northern District of Illinois in the consolidated broiler chicken antitrust litigation case specifying the process for class certification. The plaintiffs and the defendants agreed, according to the filing, on the process for motions for class certification, oppositions, and replies. 

The case will include three “prospective plaintiff classes”: the direct purchaser plaintiffs, the commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs, and the end user and consumer plaintiffs. Each class will submit an individual motion for certification, and the defendants will submit a joint opposition to each one. 

The direct purchaser plaintiffs also filed a motion to appoint special masters for settlement on Thursday. The motion repeated from a September order that the court is working towards an “expedient resolution” in the case. “After more than four years of litigation,” the motion said, “motions for class certification will be filed in two weeks and the close of fact discovery is in sight.” 

The group of plaintiffs suggested that setting aside time to talk with the parties about the case could worthwhile; it was reportedly discussed in February 2018. They said that “significant work remains to be done,” and that moving to class certification will lead to class expert discovery and further steps. “Finally, in just over two years, there will be trials in those cases that are not settled or otherwise resolved. But the proceedings will not end there. The Court has acknowledged that the related bid-rigging claims, which are stayed … will necessitate more document discovery.” 

The direct purchasers proposed two candidates for “Special Masters,” who are retired judges, Ruben Castillo and Morton Denlow. They also suggested that having two people in the position could help with timing and give a greater chance of success. 

The end-user and consumer plaintiffs’ interim lead counsel is Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the direct purchaser plaintiffs’ interim liaison class counsel is Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC, and the commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs’ liaison counsel is Wexler Wallace LLP. The defendants are represented by separate counsel.