Porter Wright trial team secures second landmark win in rare federal antitrust case
Porter Wright announced it has secured a second landmark defense win in a major federal antitrust case, its second defense verdict in jury trials for its client, Rose Acre Farms, Inc. (Seymour, IN), in less than two years.
Porter Wright defeated an antitrust class action of direct purchasers in 2018. On Dec. 12, 2019, in a case brought by 12 supermarkets, a Pennsylvania federal jury returned a verdict rejecting their claims of conspiracy to reduce egg supply.
The plaintiffs were some of the largest grocery store chains in the United States, including Kroger and Giant Eagle, that had declined to join the previous class action case.
Plaintiffs alleged Rose Acre and two industry groups conspired with others in order to raise shell egg prices, including that the defendants created an animal welfare program as a pretext to raise egg prices.
The trial team was led by Porter Wright attorneys Jim King, Don Barnes and Jay Levine. In closing arguments on Tuesday, King reminded jurors it was the egg buyers who required producers to only sell eggs produced in compliance with the animal welfare standards, and that egg prices went to historic lows after the standards were put into place.
The trial began six weeks ago, and after only a day and a half of deliberation, the jury found the plaintiffs failed to prove there was any conspiracy. The plaintiffs planned to seek roughly $1 billion in damages, which could have resulted in $3 billion after trebling.
In the 2018 class action case that resulted in a complete defense verdict in Rose Acre’s favor, the class was also seeking more than $1 billion in damages, which could have also resulted in a $3 billion verdict after trebling.
This case dates back to 2008, when various egg buyers filed a class action lawsuit against 13 egg producers.
Co-Counsel: Pepper Hamilton LLP for United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers.
Porter Wright Trial Team: Jim King, Don Barnes, Jay Levine, Allen Carter, Arlene Boruchowitz, Ben Steinberger, Brad Hughes, Eric Gallon, Matt Gill, Abby Chin, and David Bloomfield.
Plaintiffs: Kroger Co., Giant Eagle Inc., Publix Super Markets, Inc., H-E-B Grocery Company, Safeway, Inc., Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., Albertsons Companies, Inc., Hy-Vee, Inc., Walgreens Company, SuperValu, Inc., Roundys Supermarkets, Inc. and A&P.
The case is In Re: Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation, case number 2:08-md-02002, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- "Pa. jury fries egg price-fixing conspiracy claims," published by Law360 on Dec. 12, 2019
- "Porter Wright trial team secures second landmark win in rare federal antitrust case," published by Street Insider on Dec. 12, 2019
- "Jury rejects suit claiming conspiracy to hike egg prices," published by WattAgNet on Dec. 13, 2019
- "Price-fixing lawsuit against egg suppliers goes splat," published by Ag Daily on Dec. 16, 2019
- "Jim King secures second landmark win in rare federal antitrust case" published by IADC News on Dec. 17, 2019
- "Who Got the Work: Egg Conspiracy Allegations and Fortnite Leaks," published in ALM's Mid-Market Report on Dec. 18, 2019
- "Favorable egg antitrust verdicts could spur farmers, trade associations to seek more jury trials," published in MLex Market Insight on Dec. 31, 2019
- "Jury finds egg producers did not conspire to raise prices," published in Columbus CEO on Feb. 24, 2020