Antitrust Case Advances Against Major Pork Processors as Judge Denies Dismissal

In a recent development, a Minnesota federal judge has refused to dismiss a class action antitrust case involving some of the nation’s largest pork producers, according to court records.

The accused companies, including Clemens, Hormel, JBS, Seaboard, Smithfield, Triumph, Tyson, and Agri Stats, sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that the complaint was filed too late and that the allegations lacked strength. However, the court disagreed, asserting that the complaint could still hold merit under specific circumstances and legal considerations. Consequently, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs can proceed with their claims related to livestock regulations and the alleged conspiracy to manipulate pork prices, rejecting the companies’ request for dismissal.

The nine groups of plaintiffs allege that these companies collaborated in a secret agreement to control the pork market, engaging in manipulative practices to benefit themselves. This alleged collusion reportedly began around January 2009 and continued until at least 2018.

Last year, Minnesota District Court Judge John Tunheim made a significant decision to consolidate 27 cases involving 146 parties. Notably, the pork processors involved in the lawsuit collectively control more than 80% of the wholesale pork market.

In a related development earlier this year, Seaboard Foods reached a $10 million settlement, and in April, Judge Tunheim approved a $75 million settlement between Smithfield Foods and a consumer class. As the legal proceedings unfold, the case against major pork processors advances, shedding light on the complex dynamics within the pork industry and its potential implications for market competition.