JBS Settles Antitrust Allegations in Pork Lawsuit While Beef Antitrust Discussion Continues

Consumers who indirectly purchased pork from processing companies asked the Minnesota District Court to approve a settlement Friday between the class and defendants JBS USA Food Company, JBS USA Food Company Holdings, and JBS subsidiary Swift Pork Company. According to a declaration, the defendants agreed to pay $20 million to settle the allegations against them.

The settlement, reached March 12, reportedly was the result of “arm’s length negotiations” with a mediator. An accompanying statement filed by the plaintiffs said JBS did not oppose the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval.

In addition to requesting approval of the settlement, the class asked the court to certify the class, which will include people or companies that bought pork indirectly from any of the defendants or their subsidiaries for personal use after Jan. 1, 2009. The proposed order filed by the parties also will give instructions for how the class should be notified about the settlement and other administrative details; the plaintiffs reported that they issued subpoenas for purchase histories and contact information from consumers.

The proposed counsel for the settlement class is Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which also represents the end-user plaintiffs in a chicken antitrust lawsuit, and Gustafson Gluek PLLC, which also represents the commercial institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs in the chicken antitrust suit.

JBS is represented by Spencer Fane LLP, Felhaber Larson, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. JBS previously reached a $24.5 million settlement with the direct purchaser class, which was granted preliminary approval in January. 

On Monday, in a separate lawsuit before the same court regarding alleged antitrust violations in the beef industry, Judge Hildy Bowbeer approved a stipulation between JBS S.A. and plaintiffs purporting that JBS and other prominent companies in the beef industry engaged in illegally increasing and fixing the price of beef. The parties in this case made an agreement relating to approving alternate service, a matter that will be discussed in a hearing with the defendant’s motion to dismiss.