Midwest Poultry Services is defending a federal court multidistrict proceeding, consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which includes putative class action claims by both direct and indirect purchasers of shell eggs and egg products. The plaintiffs allege that the major producers of shell eggs and egg products, through the agricultural cooperatives they participate in, conspired to restrict supply and raise prices by agreeing to export domestically produced shell eggs to foreign markets and agreeing to increase the case space allotted to egg-laying hens, among other actions.
The defendants dispute the plaintiffs' allegations and affirmatively defend on the basis that their activities are immune from antitrust laws under the Capper-Volstead Act and other statutory and non-statutory grounds. This case presents a frontal challenge to the ability of producers of agricultural products (in this case, shell eggs and egg products) to engage in joint marketing activities under the antitrust immunity provided by the Capper-Volstead Act and to engage in standard-setting activities.
Midwest Poultry has settled with the direct purchaser class and the opt-out plaintiffs in the MDL, and with plaintiffs in a Kansas state court action. A motion to approve the settlement between Midwest Poultry and the indirect purchaser class remains pending.