Turkey Companies Ask Court to Limit Discovery in Antitrust Suit

Defendants in a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations in the turkey industry argued in the Northern District of Illinois on December 23 that the discovery in the case should be limited from the requests and not be allowed to go further than the allegations against it. They claimed many requests for discovery were not relevant and would cause a disproportionate burden. 

In the motion, the defendants are seeking for the court to issue a protective order barring specific discovery requests, including those associated with a dismissed claim or additional purported agreements between the defendants. They argued that the discovery should only relate to the single claim regarding Agri Stats sharing information and facilitating the purported antitrust activities. 

The defendants argued that “rather than focusing on proving the case that this Court has allowed to proceed, Plaintiffs have initiated sweeping discovery—including requests for personal phone records, calendars, travel logs, expense reports, text messages, and social media contacts—having no relationship whatsoever to the Agri Stats information sharing claim at issue.” 

The filing applies to two petitions, one filed by Sandee’s Bakery and the other a putative class-action by Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative. The defendants in the suit include multiple turkey companies and Agri Stats, which provides agriculture companies with price statistics. It alleges, like other lawsuits in the chicken, beef, and pork industries, that the companies conspired to fix and raise the price of the meat.

The defendants in last week’s motion further complained that the discovery requests were not only directed at them, but also at other entities including trade associations and telecommunications companies. The turkey companies purported that the plaintiffs were “using discovery to fish for evidence to support a non-existent conspiracy claim.” 

Although the defendants admitted that the applicable discovery could be extensive, they said the issue should be addressed by the court now so that the parties do not put resources into collecting and reviewing information which is not associated with the claims.