Poultry Workers Seek Preliminary Approval of $29M Settlement With Pilgrim’s Pride

A group of poultry workers asked the District of Maryland to give preliminary approval to their settlement with Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation in one of the many class-action lawsuits alleging that poultry processing companies illegally fixed prices. This lawsuit specifically alleged the companies fixed the wages paid to their workers.  

The parties reportedly reached a settlement, which includes a $29 million payment for the putative class, on June 14. In the request for preliminary approval, the plaintiffs claimed that the settlement is fair and meets the requirements under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” The memorandum supporting the motion went into further details about the settlement, including how it was reached and why it meets the qualifications for approval. Under the settlement, all claims against Pilgrim’s would be released, but claims against other major chicken companies will still continue. 

The plaintiffs in this specific lawsuit, Judy Jien, Kieo Jibidi, Elaisa Clement, Glenda Robinson, and Emily Earnest, are workers at poultry processing plants. They asked to be appointed class representatives and for the court to certify the proposed class which would include them and others who were employed by the poultry processors listed as defendants since January 2009, except managers, human resources staff, office or clerical staff, guards, and sales staff. 

In March, the Maryland court denied four motions to dismiss filed by defendants, agreeing with the plaintiffs that fixing and depressing the compensation for poultry workers constituted a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The judge ruled that the claims against them were sufficient to survive dismissal. 

The plaintiffs asked the court to appoint Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP as class counsel. 

Pilgrim’s Pride is represented by Whiteford Taylor and Preston and Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Other defendants, including Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, Koch Foods, and many others are represented by separate counsel.