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FAYETTEVILLE -- A federal judge on Tuesday ordered that Walmart Inc.'s chicken price-fixing case be transferred to the Northern District of Illinois, where similar antitrust complaints await trial.

Judge Timothy Brooks saw the Illinois federal court as the best fit to handle Walmart's case because there are three class-action complaints and 25 direct-action complaints that assert similar antitrust claims against defendants that comprise the $30 billion broiler chicken industry. In Tuesday's court filing, Brooks wrote "this transfer will serve the interests of justice, promote judicial economy and provide a judicial forum that is more convenient for the parties."

A number of retailers, restaurants, distributors and other food companies claim in lawsuits that the largest chicken companies artificially inflated U.S. broiler prices for almost 10 years by strategically curtailing supply, sharing proprietary data through an industry publication, Agri Stats, and relying on a Georgia price index that was susceptible to collusion, according to Illinois court documents.

Walmart first filed separately in Arkansas because the company believes "we can best protect our business and our customers from artificially increased costs" this way, a spokesman has said.

Unlike most plaintiffs attached to In Re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation in Illinois, Walmart omitted Arkansas producers Tyson Foods Inc., Simmons Foods Inc. and George's Inc. from the list of defendants in its complaint.

Business on 06/13/2019

Print Headline: Walmart filing gets transfer to Illinois

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