Smithfield Foods Reaches $83M Settlement With Direct Purchasers in Pork Antitrust Lawsuit

Direct pork purchasers in a District of Minnesota lawsuit alleging anticompetitive activity in the pork industry told the court on Tuesday that they reached an $83 million settlement with Smithfield Foods Inc., one of the defendants in the consolidated lawsuit. 

According to the notice of settlement, the agreement would resolve all claims from this class of plaintiffs against Smithfield, the settlement will still need to be approved by the court, which the plaintiffs said they would file motions requesting soon. 

The alleged activity began in 2009 and the plaintiffs claim the ongoing activities caused them to pay artificially inflated prices for pork. Similar lawsuits have been filed regarding beef and broiler chickens.  In the Northern District of Illinois lawsuit regarding the broiler chicken industry, Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride were granted final approval of a $155 million settlement on Tuesday in a hearing.

Reuters reported that Smithfield chief administrative officer, Keira Lombardo, said the company denies its participation in antitrust activities despite the settlement and holds that it did not participate in any unlawful activity. Lombardo further said that this settlement addresses a significant portion of its part in the litigation. 

Recently in the matter, additional cases were added to the mutli-district litigation matter and the court set a case management conference for July 15, 2021 to coordinate between the parties and discuss scheduling proposals. 

The co-lead class counsel for the direct purchaser plaintiffs includes Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. and Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP. Smithfield Foods is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Larking Hoffman Daly & Lindgren, and Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath

JBS USA has already reached a settlement with the same class, agreeing to a $24.5 million settlement. The company asked the court to approve that settlement in December 2020 and it was given preliminary approval in January. JBS also reached a settlement with the indirect purchaser class of plaintiffs.