JBS USA has now paid over $57 million to settle pork price-fixing allegations after U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim recently approved a $20 million dollar settlement with a group of consumers. JBS had also previously reached a $12.75 million settlement with a group of indirect purchasers that included restaurant and retail companies and a $24.5 million settlement with wholesalers.
“Upon review of the record, the court finds that the settlement agreement is a fair, reasonable, and adequate settlement for the settlement class…,” court documents for the latest settlement stated.
The class-action lawsuit alleged that the defendants and their co-conspirators conspired and combined to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize the price of pork, as of January 1, 2009, with the intent and expected result of increasing prices of pork in the United States, which is a violation of federal and state consumer and antitrust laws.
JBS continues to deny allegations of any wrongdoing, and the court did not decide which side was right. However, both sides agreed to settle to resolve the case.
According to court documents, the settlement “avoids what would almost certainly be a long delay by proceeding to trial and through appeals” and “also avoids the substantial risk for the class of moving this complex antitrust case through summary judgment motions, trial and appeals.”
In a statement provide to Feedstuffs, Shana Scarlett, attorney with Hagens Berman law office, stated: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with JBS and look forward to continuing to litigate this case against the remaining defendants. Not only will the $20 million JBS settlement put money back into the pockets of consumers, it will also send a strong message to co-conspirators whom we hope will reach a similar conclusion on behalf of our class of pork purchasers.”
Legal counsel representing the consumers have been awarded 33% of the settlement funds, which totals $6.6 million. Another nearly $323,000 was awarded to for expenses associated with the litigation.
The case is still proceeding against other defendants named, including Clemens Food Group, The Clemens Family Corporation, Hormel Foods Corporation, Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods, Triumph Foods, Tyson Foods, Tyson Prepared Foods, Tyson Fresh Meats, and Agri Stats.