Prominent Restaurants Challenge Settlement Agreement in Poultry Antitrust Case

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In a recent development within the poultry industry, a group of prominent restaurants, including Boston Market, Bojangles, El Pollo Loco, and Golden Corral, have voiced concerns regarding a settlement agreement reached with Simmons Foods, one of the nation’s largest poultry producers. According to court records, these restaurants, as part of the buyer class in a civil suit against poultry producers, have raised objections to certain aspects of the settlement, leading them to file an appeal in the Seventh Circuit.

At the heart of the dispute is the contention that the settlement with Simmons Foods reintroduced a bid-rigging claim that the buyer class had previously abandoned, a move perceived as contradictory to earlier rulings. The restaurants argue that this decision unfairly prejudices certain parties and diverges from the chosen litigation track of some plaintiffs.

Furthermore, the restaurants assert that the court failed to conduct a thorough evaluation of the settlement’s fairness and reasonableness, placing an undue burden on the restaurants to substantiate the value of their bid-rigging claims. They also highlight concerns regarding inadequate representation of their interests in the settlement negotiations.

In response, the buyers emphasize that the group of restaurants had the opportunity to opt out of the class but failed to meet the deadline, suggesting that their current objections may be an attempt to derail the settlement agreement, which totals $284 million across settlements with poultry producers.

This legal dispute underscores the complexity and contentious nature of antitrust litigation within the poultry industry, as stakeholders navigate intricate legal proceedings and divergent interests. As the appellate court considers the arguments presented by both parties, the outcome will likely have significant implications for the ongoing litigation and the broader landscape of antitrust enforcement within the poultry sector.