Sysco and Litigation Funder Defend Proposed Swap in Pork Antitrust Case

It appears that Sysco Corp. and its subsidiary Carina Ventures are seeking to replace Sysco as the plaintiff in an antitrust lawsuit involving major pork producers. The case alleges that the top pork processors conspired to manipulate prices. Carina Ventures, which is a subsidiary of litigation funder Burford Capital, wants to take over Sysco’s position as the plaintiff.

Last month, the pork producers argued against this switch, expressing concerns that Carina Ventures might be more aggressive in negotiations and less willing to settle the claims. The case is being heard in a Minnesota federal court by Judge John Tunheim, who consolidated similar cases in the past year.

Notably, Sysco and Carina also filed a similar motion to switch roles in other antitrust cases involving poultry and beef. Previously, Burford Capital had been funding Sysco’s legal expenses, but a dispute between the two companies led to lawsuits. Eventually, they dropped the lawsuits, and Sysco offered to allow its subsidiary, Carina, to step in as the plaintiff.

In response to the defendants’ objections, Carina and Sysco argued in a recent court filing that the speculation about Carina’s potential aggressiveness in pursuing the claims is not a sufficient reason to deny the switch. Carina’s lawyers asserted that the defendants’ opposition to the substitution is causing unnecessary delays and wasting the court’s time. They further emphasized that the substitution would not impact important rights, require additional investigations, or disrupt the case schedule.