Preliminary Approval Granted to Chicken Antitrust Settlement

Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the Northern District of Illinois granted preliminary approval for two settlement agreements between Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride with the direct purchaser class of plaintiffs in the consolidated antitrust lawsuit on Thursday. 

Thursday’s filing reported that the court held a hearing and reviewed the motion and determined that the settlement agreements were “within the range of possible approval” and are “preliminarily determined to be fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class.” 

Durkin further certified the settlement class, which will consist of any persons who purchased broiler chickens from any of the defendants or a co-conspirator between the start of January 2008 and December 20, 2019.  The class does exclude entities associated with the defendants and government entities including judicial officers and their families. Additionally, the court appointed Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw LLP to be co-lead counsel for the class of direct purchaser plaintiffs. The defendants asked the court in January to not certify the classes of plaintiffs citing the large variance in the chicken market. 

The settlement, which was initially announced in January, includes a $75 million payment from Pilgrim’s Pride. Tyson did not disclose what amount it was paying in this settlement, however, its financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission listed that it would pay an aggregate amount of $221.5 million to settle claims with this class, with the end-user consumer plaintiffs, and with the commercial and institutional indirect purchaser plaintiffs

In addition to approving the settlement and certifying the class of direct purchasers, the court also approved which provides for information about the settlement to be sent to class members. It also set forth a schedule for class notice and for the fairness hearing. Additionally, Judge Durkin ordered that if either settlement is not given final approval then the settlement agreement and associated proceedings will be vacated.