Chicken conspiracy lawsuit nets Washington state $725,000May 23, 2022
Mar-Jac Poultry has agreed to pay $725,000 to settle an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Washington Attorney General’s office in October. The suit named 19 chicken producers in what it claims is a “sweeping conspiracy” to coordinate supplies and manipulate prices dating at least to 2008.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the settlement this week in a statement saying it was the first agreement with any of the producers named in the suit, which included high-profile known companies like Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods.
The chicken producers named in the antitrust action account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken produced for consumption in the United States.
Some 7 million Washingtonians purchase chicken products, according to Ferguson. “If you’ve eaten chicken in the last decade, this conspiracy touched your wallet. This is an important step toward accountability. We aren’t done yet,” he stated.
Ferguson asserts that the producers used data from Agri Stats, Inc., also named in the suit, to illegally inflate the cost of chicken, which resulted in consumers paying millions more for chicken.
Agri Stats, the suit claims, knowingly presented market data to the companies in a format that enabled them to identify one another’s business information, which facilitated the price fixing.
The suit also alleges that producers colluded through signals during investor calls and direct coordination between people in the industry.
As part of its settlement with Washington, Mar-Jon Poultry has agreed to establish an antitrust compliance program and to cooperate with the attorney general’s office by providing information and documentation related to the case against the other producers targeted by the lawsuit.
The case was pursued by the Attorney General’s Office Antitrust Division, which received no taxpayer funding. It is supported through recoveries made in antitrust cases.
At the conclusion of the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office will use recovered funds to prioritize consumer restitution, cost and fee recovery and future antitrust enforcement.
Mar-Jac Poultry did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.
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