A landmark judgment has been awarded to Arkansas and Louisiana poultry growers in a lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest chicken producers. A federal judge ordered Pilgrim’s Pride to pay nearly $26 million to 91 growers in the El Dorado, Arkansas area. It was reported in 2010 that chicken growers had their lives devastated when Pilgrim’s Pride idled its plant in El Dorado. With no income and mounting debt, many of them faced foreclosure, bankruptcy, and severe emotional distress.
On September 30th, after being in court for two years, a federal judge ruled in favor of the growers finding that the corporation’s decision to idle its El Dorado plant was “motivated by a desire to manipulate the price of chicken,” thereby violating an anti-trust law. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham ordered Pilgrim’s Pride to pay about $25.8 million to the growers. Individual growers will receive payments ranging between $9,000 and $900,000. This is the largest verdict for a group of poultry growers against a poultry company.
The El Dorado growers were said to be very good people who work very hard on their farms with each having invested large sums of money in their operations. The investment in a single farm can be as high as a million dollars. The growers hope Pilgrim’s Pride will either sell its idled El Dorado plant or re-open it. Last November, a spokesman said that the corporation planned to re-open two idled facilities by 2012, but at that time had not decided which ones. Other litigation against Pilgrim’s is pending and involves Arkansas chicken growers in Batesville, DeQueen, Hope and Lewisville. According to reports, those cases are expected to go to trial. Mark C. Brodeur, a lawyer from Dallas, Texas, served as lead counsel for the Plaintiffs. He and the other lawyers involved in the case did a very good job.
Source: Associated Press
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