Legal Roundup: Another Poultry Price Fixing Lawsuit, City of St. Louis Sues Former Football Team and More

The latest court filings and cases that will have an impact on the risk management and insurance industry.
By: | March 18, 2021

Alaska Files $1B Poultry Price Fixing Lawsuit

The Case: The Alaska Department of Law filed a consumer-protection lawsuit alleging that 21 businesses conspired to raise the price of poultry in the state. The suit seeks $1 billion in damages.

The Associated Press reports: “Maria Bahr, an assistant attorney general and department spokeswoman, said the state alleges a cartel of corporations ‘engaged in an illegal conspiracy to restrain production and manipulate pricing to artificially inflate the price of broiler chicken throughout the United States, including Alaska.’ ”

The companies did not comment in the article but in the past they attributed price increases to The Great Recession and other factors — not price fixing.

Scorecard: The case has recently been filed and has not come to a resolution.

Takeaway: It’s not the first time the industry was accused of price fixing. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp agreed to pay $110.5 million to settle claims of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens from 2012 to 2017. In January, Tyson Foods agreed to pay $221.5 million to settle similar claims.

Panda Express Sued Over Alleged Bizarre Training Ritual

The Case: A Panda Express worker sued the company in Los Angeles County Superior Court over a training seminar.

The Washington Post describes the allegation in cringe-worthy detail: “The Panda Express cashier had already been forced to strip to her underwear in front of her fellow staff during a ‘self-improvement’ seminar in 2019, she said, and told to open up to the group about her vulnerabilities. But when a male colleague broke down crying while trying to do the same, the session’s leaders ordered her to go one step further: She had to ‘hug it out’ with him, both of them still undressed, as others filmed her or ogled at her body, the 23-year-old employee in California said.”

The company said it is investigating the incident and said it does not have any connection or oversight for Alive Seminars, the group that ran the program.

Scorecard: The lawsuit has recently been filed and has not come to a resolution.

Takeaway: How much knowledge did Panda Express leadership have? That will be a big question in this case.

Roc Nation Wins $12.5M Claim in Death of Maroon 5 Manager

The Case: Entertainment company Roc Nation sued insurer Houston Casualty Company (HCC) over the death of Maroon 5’s manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation had taken out a so-called “key man insurance policy” on Feldstein after purchasing an ownership stake in Feldstein’s company Career Artist Management (CAM).

“HCC argued in court papers that Roc Nation was precluded from any recovery because the company failed to cooperate with HCC’s investigation of the claim — a contention that Roc Nation denied,” Billboard  reports.

“HCC also argued that the policy language required the insurance payment be reduced by all future profits that could have been traceable to Feldstein’s services. To this, Roc Nation’s legal team argued that the policy’s plain language outlines that it was entitled to recoup from HCC its full investment in CAM, minus any dividends it had received from CAM by the time Feldstein died.”

Feldstein was the brother of actors Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein. He died of a pulmonary embolism at age 40.

Scorecard: U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that HCC must pay Roc Nation $12.5 million, stating that Roc Nation generally cooperated with HCC during the process.

Takeaway: In mergers & acquisitions, companies don’t just acquire other companies — the people are often just as valuable.

St. Louis’ Suit Against Rams Owner for Moving Team Delayed

The Case: The City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority sued the NFL over the Rams leaving town for Los Angeles. Since the departure, the team went to a Super Bowl while the city of St. Louis was left with a gaping hole in revenues.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that “the plaintiffs are seeking upward of $1 billion, claiming the Rams’ departure cost the city millions in amusement, ticket and earnings tax revenue. The suit alleges breach of contract, fraud, illegal enrichment and interference in business by the Rams and the NFL, causing significant public financial loss.”

Scorecard: The judge delayed the case until 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions on reopening courts.

Takeaway: The case could center around getting non-biased jurors and could have implications for professional teams who move cities in the future. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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