The DOJ Steps In To Deal With Price Fixing Scandal Involving Poultry
The current buzz in the poultry industry is that criminal indictments can be handed down soon. It was announced on Friday that the Department of Justice is now actively involved in the poultry price fixing case. A grand jury has been involved in a lawsuit filed by food distributor Maplevale Farm. The DOJ stepped in to say that discovery in the case had to be stalled. The issue the DOJ says is that evidence being revealed will compromise the grand jury investigation. Legal experts weighing in on the issues are saying that the DOJ intervention is a definite signal that indictments are immanent. The DOJ was granted a temporary stay in the case, pending the next hearing date, which has not been announced.
All Depositions Have Now Been Ordered To Cease In The Case
The DOJ is requesting a six-month stay to give the grand jury enough time to fully wrap up the case. Peter C. Carstensen a law professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin Law School is weighing in on the case. The professor who formally as a DOJ attorney says that the DOJ in charge of a grand jury investigation ‘is very significant.’ He went on to explain that the DOJ ‘must believe there are serious legal violations that warrant criminal indictments.’
According to Cartensen ‘the DOJ would never be involved in this way, if they didn’t have evidence of criminal activity.’ The motion granted states that depositions for plaintiffs or defendants must now be halted, pending further court orders. Legal experts said that the DOJ wants the grand jury to ‘have a clear shot at all the evidence.’ The experts say that the DOJ wants to make sure the grand jury has the evidence before the civil attorneys.’
The Lawsuit Claims That Companies Conspired With Info Sharing Service To Illegally Raise Prices
The landmark case claims that the a reticent information group ‘Agri Stats’ conspired with poultry companies to raise prices. The suit also alleges that those named companies illegally gained information from ‘Georgia Dock’. The company is now out of business in part because of this poultry price fixing scandal.
Walmart, Conagra and Sysco have also filed separate lawsuits, with similar claims to Maplevale. These lawsuits claim hat over the past two years companies conspired with Agri Stats to illegally raise poultry prices to a vastly distorted level. The suit further alleges that the while the companies sought to profit from the price fixing. The litigants claim while the companies profited from the price fixing they withheld farmer wages simultaneously.
Several farmers affected by the price fixing have also filed lawsuits for lost wages. The named poultry companies including Tyson, have all denied the charges against them. The DOJ refused to comment on the charges or the grand jury, saying ‘it’s an ongoing investigation.’ Tyson says Cartensen is the chief offender according to the lawsuits and the pending DOJ probe.