Meat industry lawsuits

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

A recent class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois federal court by a number of cattle ranchers, including R-CALF, against the nation’s largest meatpacking companies. Now, another lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota federal court also alleging a price fixing conspiracy by the meatpackers. The second lawsuit is being brought by a cattle futures trader, rather than a rancher. After the second suit was filed, R-CALF voluntarily dismissed its case in Illinois to refile it in Minnesota. This refiling allows the lawsuits to be heard by the same court.

Tyson, which is named as a defendant in the class action suits, is a plaintiff in another case against the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The company alleges that a FSIS inspector falsified an inspection of 4,622 hogs, which were intermingled with another 8,000 carcasses, at one of its Iowa facilities in 2018. The company claims that the false inspection required it to destroy all of the carcasses, and cost nearly $2.5 million in total losses and expenses. The complaint alleges four counts: negligence, negligent inspection, negligent retention, and negligent supervision. The lawsuit is based on the legal principle that an employer is liable for the actions of its employee.

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