Court grants preliminary approval to settlement of egg price-fixing suit

By Jim Boyle | Jul 31, 2014

A federal judge at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has given

preliminary approval toward a combined $4 million settlement deal between four defendants and plaintiffs in a class action antitrust lawsuit that accused egg producers of fixing market prices.

According to the ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, who is handling the antitrust MDL that has been consolidated in Philadelphia, negotiations were properly conducted between the plaintiffs and the defendants, including producers National Food Corporation and Midwest Poultry Services, plus trade organizations United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers.

The documents also establish the eligibility requirements for parties to join the class action.

The ruling breaks down the payments as the following:

  • $1 million for the National Food Corporation

  • $2.5 million for Midwest Poultry Services

  • $500,000 for UEP and USEM

In order to file as a member of the class and seek damages, parties must be any individual or entity that purchased shell eggs from any of the named defendants from Jan. 1, 2000, to the present. The defendants are wholesalers that supply egg products to distribution companies, meaning that members of the general public would be unable to collect.

The class action suit was filed against multiple producers throughout the country in 2008 and consolidated into a multi-district litigation. According to the original complaints, the egg producers had been accused of conspiring to restrict egg supply through cage space requirements, as well as coordinated molting schedules and hen reductions, and exported eggs at a loss in order to reduce domestic supplies and raise prices.  According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the conspiracy was coordinated through egg trade associations such as UEP and USEM.

The order also establishes the class counsel for the settlement classes, including Philadelphia law firm Weinstein Kitchenoff & Asher LLC, Hausfeld LLC in Washington, D.C., Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York City and Susman Godfrey, also in New York.

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