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Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale said it would pay $221.5 million to settle a lawsuit originally filed in 2016 that alleged Tyson Foods conspired with other poultry producers to fix prices for broiler chickens.
Broiler is a term used for a chicken that is raised for meat production.
In September 2016, Maplevale Farms Inc. of Falconer, New York, filed a class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Tyson Foods and other companies for itself and other direct purchasers of poultry. Later lawsuits were filed by indirect purchasers and end users, and the court consolidated the lawsuits under one action.
Tyson Foods, in a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission dated Tuesday, said the $221.5 million settlement was for all three classes of plaintiffs. The settlements are subject to court approval and would appear on Tyson Foods’ first-quarter financial statement.
“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,” Tyson Foods said in its SEC filing, which was signed by CFO Stewart Glendinning.
Pilgrim’s Pride, another defendant, had announced a $75 million settlement earlier this month.
The lawsuits claimed that Tyson Foods and other companies conspired to fix prices of the “Georgia Dock,” a wholesale chicken price index. In 2019, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division joined the investigation and served Tyson Foods with a subpoena.
Tyson Foods said it discovered information during the subpoena process that it had previously reported. The company is cooperating with the federal investigation under the Department of Justice’s Corporate Leniency Program.
Ten executives with other companies have been indicted on price-fixing charges by the DOJ.