A jury has reached a verdict in favor of three egg companies in a class action lawsuit in which the companies were accused of conspiring with other egg companies to reduce the supply of eggs in the country and drive up prices.
Rose Acre Farms, R.W. Sauder and Ohio Fresh Eggs were cleared of any wrongdoing in the suit that was filed on behalf of a class of direct purchasers. Rose Acre Farms, the second largest egg company in the United States, was represented by the law firm Porter Wright, while Ohio Fresh Eggs was represented by Keating Muething & Klekamp, and R.W. Sauder was represented by Dechert, according to a press release from Porter Wright.
The plaintiffs alleged that some of the largest egg producers in the United States committed antitrust violations by conspiring to raise shell egg prices by reducing the supply through the development and implementation of a certification program designed to give caged laying hens more space, as well as other alleged activities.
The class was seeking more than $1 billion in damages, but Porter Wright estimated that after trebling, the suit could have resulted in a $3 billion verdict.
The trial started on May 2 and lasted 27 days. The court proceedings were held in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Gene E.K. Pratter presided over the case.
The case, which also targeted other egg companies, dates back to 2008. Other egg companies and organizations – including Cal-Maine Foods, National Food Corp., NuCal Foods, Michael Foods, Midwest Poultry Services, Sparboe Farms, Hillandale Farms, United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers -- have reached settlements. Most of those that reached settlements stated they did so not as an admission of guilt, but rather to avoid the distractions of the litigation.