MINNEAPOLIS – After announcing an agreement in November, JBS USA and a group of direct purchasers in an ongoing pork price-fixing lawsuit filed a motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement. 

The court documents filed in the US District Court of Minnesota said that JBS would pay $24.5 million into an escrow account within 14 days of the court’s approval.

The fund will be used to compensate direct purchasers for damages suffered and expenses accrued including attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and the costs of notice.

Along with the payment, the motion stated that JBS was required “to provide specified cooperation in the DPPs’ (Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs) continued prosecution of the action against the remaining Defendants. The terms of this cooperation are set forth in a confidential letter agreement, which will be provided to the court for in camera review upon request.”

The court documents also said this cooperation will assist direct purchasers in recovering the “maximum amount of their damages against the remaining Defendants in the case.”

Other companies named in the original complaint include Agri Stats, Clemens Food Group LLC, Hormel Foods Corp., Indiana Packers Corp., Seaboard Foods LLC, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods LLC and Tyson Foods Inc.

The proposed agreement does not cover lawsuits filed by consumers and retailers which the court agreed to consolidate with the direct purchasers’ lawsuit.

In August of 2019, the court dismissed the lawsuits on the grounds that plaintiffs did not adequately prove parallel conduct enough to support an inference of a conspiracy. However, the court did grant the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaints.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in January.

JBS USA is a unit of São Paulo-based JBS S.A.