According to the Tyson class action lawsuit, certain class members’ were intentionally deceived into believing that they were purchasing a higher quality chicken than was available at the time of purchase. These class members were then charged additional fees for their “bargain” while on a “special order” basis. Subsequently, they were further pushed into a lawsuit that has had them divided up among different attorneys to collect on purported damages due to this “shady” practice. The suit claims that the alleged deception was orchestrated by several high-level executives of the poultry industry that went out of their way to speak with various media outlets to “distort the facts.” In addition, according to the Tyson class-action lawsuit, senior management was similarly inflamed by statements by top executives that called for mass flock sales in response to increasing demand from consumers. Further, Tyson and several other manufacturers used internal reports generated by Agri Stats, yet another defendant, in this case, to further coordinate the lie that wholesale chicken prices would soar as a result of the “supply-side” glut in poultry.
In the course of this class action lawsuit, many former and current customers of Tyson foods have come forward to vocally support the complaint.
Plaintiffs argue that because these defendants knew full well that the company was lying about wholesale chicken quality and did nothing to rectify the situation, they are liable for fraud. Further, one attorney in the case has indicated that he believes the damages that have been awarded in recent court cases to be “trumped” by the defendant’s insurance companies. (It should be noted that such lawsuits are generally brought by class members whose individual injuries arose as a direct result of the alleged conduct.)
The Class Action Lawsuit further claims that the defendants did not provide either notice or adequate warning of the fraudulent intention to inflate the meat quality issue and purposely inflate the beef prices to receive a financial windfall at the expense of the class members. Further, defendant Metlife Insurance, one of the named defendants, and its president, John M. DeGiorgio, and vice president, Richard J. DeGiorgio, III, were aware of the falsity of defendant claims before advising the Dairy Farmers of their financial peril. At all times before advising the Dairy Farmers of the falsity of the “higher value” beef grades, Metlife Insurance had indicated to the Dairy Farmers that the strength of their brand had been misrepresented because the strength of the brand decreased when beef quality was lowered. These facts had a direct bearing on whether or not the Dairy Farmers of California was able to maintain its position as the nation’s largest dairy manufacturer.
Further, it is alleged that the defendants failed to warn the Beef Products Corporation and its two main distributors of the falsity of their initial claims.
Essentially, the claim goes on to say that the defendants knew that their statements regarding beef were false and could, therefore, have an effect on the price of their company’s stock. Further, it is alleged that the defendants failed to warn the United States Food and Drug Administration that their initial statements regarding the strength of their beef were untrue and could have a direct effect on the strength of the beef product upon which they sold. Finally, it is claimed that the defendants engaged in price-fixing – that is, they fixed the wholesale price of beef without telling any of their retailers the wholesale price was fixed and would not be affected by the claims.