Tyson Foods has settled civil claims for $221.5 million brought by poultry purchasers who alleged price-fixing by the company, while admitting no liability.
In a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the company said it had settled with classes representing direct buyers, commercial and institutional indirect buyers, and end-users.
The settlements are still “subject to the execution of long-form settlement agreements with the respective parties and court approval” and do not settle claims made by plaintiffs who chose to opt out of the classes in the litigation brought in Illinois, according to the filing.
“While the company does not admit any liability as part of the settlements, it believes that the settlements were in the best interests of the company and its shareholders in order to avoid the uncertainty, risk, expense and distraction of protracted litigation,” the SEC filing said. The payments “will be reflected in the Company’s first quarter 2021 financial statements.”
In November, Tyson said it expected its fiscal 2021 revenues to be between $42 billion and $44 billion.
The National Farmers Union, in tweeting about the settlement, called it “good news” but added, “It needs to be followed by meaningful reforms to the industry that prevent this kind of behavior in the first place.”
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The civil litigation is proceeding, with Perdue Farms, Sanderson Farms, and Mountaire Farms among the defendants.
On Jan. 11, Pilgrim’s Pride announced a $75 million settlement in the same litigation, also while not admitting liability. That company also settled in October with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division as part of DOJ's investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the industry, agreeing to pay $110.5 million.
Tyson said in June it is cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry. Ten individuals have been charged in connection with that investigation, including former executives at Pilgrim’s.
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