Minnesota Federal Judge Rejects Proposed Substitution in Sysco-Burford Capital Antitrust Case

A Minnesota federal judge has rejected a proposed substitution between Sysco Corp. and a subsidiary of litigation funder Burford Capital in a significant antitrust case involving the nation’s leading pork producers, according to court documents.

Initially, Burford Capital, through its subsidiary Carina Ventures, was financing Sysco’s legal expenses in the antitrust case. However, disputes arose between the two parties regarding Burford’s role, leading to reciprocal lawsuits. Eventually, both parties decided to withdraw their suits, and Sysco suggested allowing the litigation funder’s subsidiary to take its place.

On Friday, Judge John Tunheim in federal court denied the proposed substitution, expressing concerns about potential violations of legal procedures and the influence of a profit-driven financier.

In July, pork producers contested the substitution, asserting that Carina Ventures might be overly aggressive in negotiations and less inclined to settle claims against the top processors accused of conspiring to manipulate prices.

In response, Carina’s lawyers argued in August that the defendants were causing unwarranted delays and wasting the court’s time by opposing the substitution.

It’s worth noting that Carina and Sysco are pursuing similar substitutions in antitrust cases involving turkey and beef producers. As of now, no decisions have been made on those motions, but Judge Tunheim is also presiding over the case related to beef producers.