If you purchased chicken in the last decade, you could be entitled to some money back.
A $181 million settlement is pending in the Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, a class-action lawsuit that alleges price-fixing within the poultry industry.
The lawsuit claims the defendants and “their co-conspirators conspired to restrict the supply of, and fix, raise, and stabilize the price of chicken, as of January 1, 2009, in violation of federal and state consumer and antitrust laws.”
To be eligible to receive money, you need to have purchased fresh or frozen raw chicken between January 2009 and Dec. 31, 2020, and submit a claim form at Overchargedforchicken.com. You also need to be a resident of one of 24 states or Washington D.C. (See list of states below.)
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Chicken that is marketed as halal, kosher, free-range or organic is excluded, the settlement states.
Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation and Tyson Foods, Inc. are among the chicken producers who have reached a settlement in the case. Other defendants in the suit include Perdue Foods, Sanderson Farms, Wayne Farms and Koch Foods.
Poultry prices fixed?
The U.S. poultry industry has been operating under a cloud in recent years. Restaurant chains, food producers and grocers, including Walmart, Kroger and Chick-fil-A, sued Sanderson Farms, Wayne Farms and other poultry producers in 2016 alleging that the companies conspired to fix poultry prices over an eight-year period.
The U.S. Department of Justice intervened in the case and has charged at least 10 people with antitrust violations, including current and former employees at Pilgrim’s Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods. Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms have not been charged. Sanderson received a subpoena in the case in 2019 and has said it is cooperating.
According to a news release, the settling defendants “have not admitted any liability concerning, and continue to deny the legal claims alleged in” the lawsuit and agreed to settle “to avoid the further expense, inconvenience, disruption, and burden of this litigation … and thereby to put to rest this controversy.”
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Chicken class action suit: File a claim
The claim form asks whether you were a resident of the following 24 states or Washington D.C.: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, or Wisconsin.
The purchasing dates for the chicken are January 2009 through Dec. 31, 2020, but dates differ in Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
The form also asks for your best estimate of how many packages of chicken you purchased on a monthly basis and the estimated cost.
The deadline to submit a claim is Dec. 31, 2022. To exclude yourself from the suit you need to submit an exclusion request by Nov. 10, 2021, the settlement website says.
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Contributing: Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY; Associated Press