Packer Antitrust Lawsuits Dismissed, Dates Set In Others

The antitrust lawsuits against pork packers was dismissed. ( FJ )

Antitrust lawsuits against several large U.S. pork packers were dismissed on Thursday, while key court dates were set in the antitrust suits against beef packers.  

In dismissing the antitrust lawsuit against pork packers, Chief Judge John Tunheim of the federal district court in Minneapolis said the plaintiffs failed to show “parallel conduct” to support an inference that the companies conspired illegally.

The class action lawsuit accused Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA, Hormel Foods and others of conspiring to limit the supply of pork to inflate prices and their own profits at the expense of consumers.

Tunheim’s decision covered 13 lawsuits brought on behalf of three groups of plaintiffs. The dismissal was without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs may amend their complaints.

A similar consolidated antitrust lawsuit is also underway in Minnesota’s U.S. District Court against beef packers. This week the court set the following deadlines for defendant’s motions to dismiss:

Sept. 13, 2019: Defendants’ moving papers and supporting documentation due

Nov. 12, 2019: Plaintiffs’ responsive memoranda and supporting documentation due

Dec. 12, 2019: Defendants’ reply memoranda and supporting documentation due

A hearing on the motions to dismiss in the case will be held on Jan. 13, 2020 in Minneapolis.

On April 23, 2019, R-CALF USA filed suit in Chicago against Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A., Cargill, Inc., and National Beef Packing Company, LLC, and certain of their affiliates alleging that from at least January 1, 2015 through the present, the packers conspired to depress the price of fed cattle they purchased from American ranchers, thereby inflating their own margins and profits.

That suit and two others were consolidated into one by U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in July.

Related stories:

R-CALF Sues Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National

Packer Lawsuits Will Be Consolidated Into One