14 chicken processing companies are implicated
The United States Department of Justice has joined the class-action price-fixing lawsuit against the biggest chicken processing companies.
That, say observers, raises the possibility of criminal charges. The agency’s motion asks that the court impose a six-month stay of depositions and non-evidentiary written discovery of the defendants and their current employees to protect a grand jury investigation.
The federal lawyers wrote the court to say “the government has a significant interest in ensuring the integrity of the grand jury’s investigation and, if charges are filed, minimizing the extent to which discovery can be used to circumvent criminal discovery.”
Maplevale Farms, a distribution company in New York State, was the first to complain in 2015 about an alleged price-fixing conspiracy carried out by the nation’s 14 largest chicken companies with help from market intelligence firm Agri Stats Inc.
The companies filed information with Agri Stats Inc. which compiled reports it presented back to them.