Consumers who bought pork from companies named in a class action alleging price-fixing in the industry will receive about $13 million from JBS USA following a federal judge’s approval of a settlement.
U.S. District Judge John Tunheim has granted final approval to the settlement, which allocates a total of $20 million that includes about $7 million for attorney fees and costs. JBS had previously agreed to pay indirect purchasers such as restaurants $12.75 million and another $24.5 million to direct purchasers.
“The settlement provides adequate relief for the class in the form of $20 million in monetary compensation and cooperation from JBS in the ongoing litigation,” the judge said in his order. “The monetary compensation provides substantial, more immediate, and certain relief to the class and eliminates the costs of prosecuting the case against the JBS defendants.”
The judge previously approved a settlement of $42 million for purchasers such as restaurants with Smithfield, another defendant in the lawsuit that also names Agri Stats, Clemens, Hormel Foods, Indiana Packers Corporation, and Seaboard Foods. Smithfield also has agreed to pay $83 million to direct purchasers.
An attorney for the consumer class said it has reached an agreement with Smithfield, but it is not yet public.
Neither company has admitted any wrongdoing in the matter, which covers purchases from Jan, 1, 2009, to the dates preliminary approvals were granted in the settlements.
Tunheim rejected objections to the latest settlement filed by one of the members of the class, such as whether “common questions of questions of fact and law predominate over individualized questions.” Tunheim concluded they did.
The settlement, he found, "provides a substantial benefit to the class. It provides $20 million and is coupled with meaningful cooperation terms that will assist in the claims against the non-settling defendants. This benefit is certain and more immediate than proceeding through risky litigation. This cash settlement represents a substantial recovery and benefits the class."
JBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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