A new class action settlement could put cash in the pocket of shoppers who bought chicken products in the U.S. over the last 10 years.
Prosecutors in the Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation lawsuit have alleged that a handful of chicken processors violated federal and state consumer and antitrust laws by conspiring to stabilize the price and supply of chicken as of Jan. 1, 2009.
Settlements totaling $181 million have been reached, according to a release authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois — even though the settling defendants have not admitted any liability and continued to deny the legal claims alleged in the lawsuit.
"This represents significant recovery for consumers who were harmed by the defendants conspiring to raise the price of chicken in grocery stores and other retailers, Brent W. Johnson, co-lead counsel with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
Before any money is paid, though, the court will hold a hearing on Dec. 20 to decide whether to approve the settlements.
Shoppers interested in earning part of the settlement must have purchased chicken products from one of the settling defendants — Fieldale Farms Corporation, George's, Mar-Jac Poultry, Peco Foods, Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson Foods — between Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2020.
Products include fresh or frozen raw chicken (defined as whole birds, with or without giblets); whole, cut-up birds within a package; or "white meat parts" including breasts and wings (or cuts containing a combination of both).
Meat marketed as halal, kosher, free-range or organic is not included in the lawsuit
The chicken must be purchased within the following states, too: California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island (after July 15, 2013), South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
To check eligibility and file a claim, visit www.overchargedforchicken.com, or call (877) 888-5428. The deadline to submit is Dec. 31, 2022.
Other Defendants and alleged co-conspirators named in the lawsuit who didn't agree to be involved in the settlement are Agri Stats, Inc., Claxton Poultry Farms, Inc.; Foster Farms, LLC and Foster Poultry Farms; Harrison Poultry, Inc., House of Raeford Farms, Inc.; JCG Foods of Alabama, LLC, JCG Foods of Georgia, LLC, Koch Foods, Inc. and Koch Meats Co., Inc.; Mountaire Farms, Inc., Mountaire Farms, LLC, and Mountaire Farms of Delaware, Inc.; Koch Foods, Inc., JCG Foods of Alabama, LLC, JCG Foods of Georgia, LLC, and Koch Meat Co., Inc.; O.K. Foods, Inc., O.K. Farms, Inc., and O.K. Industries, Inc.; Perdue Farms, Inc. and Perdue Foods LLC; Sanderson Farms, Inc., Sanderson Farms, Inc. (Foods Division), Sanderson Farms, Inc. (Processing Division) and Sanderson Farms, Inc. (Production Division); Wayne Farms, LLC; Mountaire Farms, Inc., Mountaire Farms, LLC, and Mountaire Farms of Delaware, Inc.; Foster Farms, LLC; House of Raeford Farms, Inc.; and Simmons Foods, Inc. and Simmons Prepared Foods, Inc.
The case is still proceeding against them, on behalf of the end-user consumer plaintiffs.
As for the settling defendants, according to the release they "agreed to settle this action to avoid the further expense, inconvenience, disruption, and burden of this litigation and any other present or future litigation arising out of the facts that gave rise to this litigation, to avoid the risks inherent in uncertain complex litigation and trial, and thereby to put to rest this controversy."