The Justice Department is seeking to intervene in a case alleging price fixing by major poultry manufacturers, in order to ensure the integrity of grand jury deliberations in a criminal investigation exploring the same allegations.

In a motion filed June 21 in federal court in Illinois, the government cited several reasons why it needs to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Maplevale Farms, a food service distributor in Falconer, N.Y. “The government has a significant interest in ensuring the integrity of the grand jury’s investigation and, if charges are filed, minimizing the extent to which civil discovery can be used to circumvent criminal discovery,” the motion said.

Another reason is that none of the parties in the case “adequately represent the government’s interests,” the government said. “The defendants clearly do not because their interest in defending the alleged conduct at issue is diametrically opposed to the government’s interest in investigating and possibly prosecuting the same or similar conduct.”

Defendants include, among others, Koch Meats, Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, Sanderson Farms, and Mountaire Farms. The plaintiffs allege the companies “engaged in a conspiracy to fix, raise, stabilize, and maintain the price of broilers.”

In addition to asking to intervene, the government for a six-month stay of the civil case.

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