Simmons Foods offers $8 million to settle conspiracy suit

A federal judge granted preliminary approval in a settlement offer from Simmons Foods in a class-action lawsuit filed by direct purchasers.

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Simmons Foods has offered to reach an $8 million settlement to put to rest a class-action lawsuit from direct purchasers who allege that Simmons conspired with other top poultry companies to drive up the price of chicken.

According to news reports, the settlement gained preliminary approval in the United States District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, and that a final hearing on the matter was set for December 12 by Judge Thomas M. Durkin.

With the proposed settlement, Simmons Foods does not accept any liability and does not admit any wrongdoing, but can continue to do business without the distraction of a lawsuit.

If the settlement were approved, this would put an end to Simmons being named a defendant in the suit brought on by direct purchasers, but there are two other classes filing lawsuits: indirect purchaser plaintiffs and end-user plaintiffs. Indirect purchasers are typically schools, universities and correctional facilities, which purchase the poultry products from some sort of middleman. End-user plaintiffs are typically defined as the final consumers of poultry products.

Other companies that have been accused of conspiring include Koch Foods, Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, Sanderson Farms, Wayne Farms, Mountaire Farms, Peco Foods, Foster Farms, House of Raeford Farms, Fieldale Farms, George’s, O.K. Foods, Amick Farms, Mar-Jac Poultry and Harrison Poultry.

Companies so far to reach a settlement in at least one of these class-action lawsuits include Tyson Foods, Peco Foods, Amick Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride and Fieldale Farms.

Simmons Foods has yet to comment on the proposed settlement.

Simmons Foods, according to the Top Poultry Companies Database, processed 22.1 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken during the past year, making it the 12th largest broiler producer in the United States. It is also the world’s sixth largest pet food company, according to the Petfood Industry Top Companies Database

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