People who bought chicken products in the United States over the past decade may be eligible to receive payments as part of a class-action settlement totaling $181 million.

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In a class-action lawsuit called the Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, prosecutors alleged that several corporations, including Fieldel, Mar-Jack, Pilgrims, and Tyson, “conspired to limit, and fix, increase and stabilize the price of chicken,” Which is a violation of federal and state consumer and antitrust laws. The defendants have denied the allegations.

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Legal notice authorized by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Posted on Friday by the law firm representing the plaintiffs in the case. It added that anyone who purchases chicken in the country from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2020 in several different US states may be eligible to receive the money – pending final approval by the court.

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The hearing is scheduled for December 20, 2021 at 9 am, to consider final approval on settlement agreements.

Eligible people include any individual or entity that purchased fresh or frozen raw chicken, whole cut birds purchased within a package, or portions of “white meat” including breasts and feathers. Chicken marketed as halal, kosher, free-range or organic is excluded from this settlement.

Eligible states include California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island (July 15). , 2013 onwards), South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

FILE – An undated file image taken in Washington, DC depicts a whole raw chicken (by Deb Lindsay via Getty Images for The Washington Post).

Fieldel Farms Corporation, George, Mar-Jack Poultry, Peco Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson Foods were named as defendants in the settlement. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

The total payment is still being determined. Consumers are requested to check their eligibility and submit the claim online by 31st December, 2022 www.overchargedforchicken.com Or by calling 1-877-888-5428.

Last week, Tyson Foods and Purdue Farms agreed to a settlement of approximately $35 million According to the Associated Press, in a lawsuit that accused him and several other firms of conspiring to dominate the industry and fix the prices paid to farmers who raise chickens.

The poultry companies agreed to the settlements without admitting any wrongdoing, while lawsuits are pending against several other industry giants, including Pilgrim’s Pride, Coach Foods and Sanderson Farms. The lawsuit, filed by Alabama farmers in Oklahoma federal court, alleges that the contract producing system created by meat companies drove farmers into debt to build and maintain chicken barns that met the company’s standards.

He also said that companies colluded to fix farmers’ compensation at a lower level to boost corporate profits, making it difficult for farmers to survive financially. Typically, chicken producers enter into long-term contracts with meat companies that farmers say lock them into deals that set their compensation at an unprofitably low level.

The farmers who sued reported earning between $12,000 and $40,000 per year working 12- to 16-hour days a year, while major meat companies such as Tyson and Pilgrim made more than $1 billion in annual profits. was reporting.

Previously, major meat companies have objectively defended the system; It calls on farmers to provide barns and labor to raise chickens while companies provide chicks, feed and expertise. Industry executives have said that the contract system has worked for six decades as it benefits companies and farmers.

Perdue Farms spokeswoman Diana Sauder said the company, which will pay $14.75 million, values ​​relationships with its farmers and Purdue pays farmers based on their performance.

“As an essential lifeblood of our business, we value the excellent relationships we build on our trust with our farmers, and remain committed to providing them with fair, competitive contracts that enable them, and therefore, our animals, company, benefit customers and consumers.” Said Sauder

Tyson, which agreed to pay $21 million in settlement, decided it was in the company’s best interest to eliminate the uncertainty, risk, expense and distraction of extended litigation, said spokesman Derek Burleson.

The Biden administration has said it plans to encourage competition in the agriculture sector and issue new rules against the nation’s largest meat processors that call for farmers to contract contracts with unfair, discriminatory or deceptive practices. Including making it easier for companies to sue.

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.