July 23, 2024

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Egg producers must pay at least $18 million in damages for price gouging in 2000s that involved conspiring to limit U.S. supplies

2 min read

A federal jury in Illinois ordered $17.7 million in damages — an amount tripled to more than $53 million under federal law — to several food manufacturing companies who had sued major egg producers over a conspiracy to limit the egg supply in the U.S.

The jury ruled last week that the egg producers used various means to limit the domestic supply of eggs to increase the price of products during the 2000s. The time frame of the conspiracy was an issue throughout the case; jurors ultimately determined damages occurred between 2004 and 2008.

The damages verdict was reached Friday in the Northern District of Illinois. According to federal antitrust law, the damages are automatically tripled, bringing the total to over $53 million. Court documents on the verdict were not readily available Friday evening, but statements from the manufacturers’ attorney and one of the egg producers confirmed a total of about $17.7 million.

“We are extremely grateful for the jury’s service and findings,” Brandon Fox, an attorney representing the food manufacturers, said in a statement. “This was an important case for many reasons, and the jury’s award recognizes its significance.”

Attorneys for the four egg suppliers named in the lawsuit did not immediately return phone messages on Friday. Court documents show the defendants have denied the claims.

The egg suppliers include the family company of its former Chair John Rust, who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Indiana. In a written statement on the verdict, Rust said the jury’s decision “will be appealed.”

The jury found that the egg suppliers exported eggs abroad to reduce the overall supply in the domestic market, as well as limited the number of chickens through means including cage space, early slaughter and flock reduction, court documents say.

Jurors were specifically told not to consider more recent changes in egg pricing during their deliberations.

Food manufacturers joining as…

Isabella Volmert, The Associated Press

2023-12-01 20:06:06

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