In Re Processed Eggs Products Antitrust Litigation

Bernstein Liebhard serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the In re: Processed Eggs Antitrust Litigation, No. 08-md-2002 (GEK) (E.D. Pa.).  The case began in 2008 and alleged a near industry-wide, price-fixing conspiracy among egg producers to raise the price of shell eggs in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.  In particular, the plaintiffs contended that the defendants conspired to restrict egg production through a sham animal-welfare program that reduced the laying hen flock sizes, express agreements to coordinate molting schedules and flock reductions, and an export program that sold eggs at a loss in order to reduce domestic supplies and raise prices.  The court certified a class consisting of all direct purchasers of shell eggs from 2004 through 2008.  To date, the firm and its co-lead counsel have achieved settlements of over $200 million.

In May of 2018, the firm served as co-trial counsel in a trial against the remaining, non-settling defendants.  The trial lasted over four weeks.  The jury found that the primary defendant had conspired to restrain trade by limiting the supply of eggs on the U.S. market but, inexplicably, that their actions were “reasonable,” thereby finding no liability. The jury verdict is currently on appeal because a conspiracy to reduce supply has been held to be a per se violation of the antitrust laws and cannot, as a matter of law, ever be “reasonable.”  The appeal is pending.