Federal Judge Blocks Plaintiff Swap in Pork Antitrust Case

A Minnesota federal judge has upheld a previous ruling, denying the motion by Sysco Corporation and Carina Ventures to substitute Carina as the plaintiff in a pork industry antitrust lawsuit. Pork producers had objected to the switch, expressing concerns about Carina’s potential aggressiveness and reluctance to settle claims of price-fixing among major processors. Sysco and Carina’s parent company, Burford Capital, had been funding Sysco’s legal fees before internal disputes led to mutual lawsuits, which were later dropped. Notably, a similar swap was permitted in an Illinois poultry antitrust case in March.

In July, pork producers argued against the switch, fearing Carina’s aggressive negotiation tactics and potential reluctance to settle claims that top processors conspired to fix prices. Sysco and Carina had attempted similar motions in poultry and beef antitrust cases.

Burford Capital, Carina’s parent company, was funding Sysco’s legal fees before disputes arose, leading to mutual lawsuits that were eventually dropped. The Minnesota judge cited concerns over violating legal procedures and the potential influence of a profit-driven financier, contrasting with a March decision in Illinois that allowed a similar swap in a poultry antitrust case.