Processing Magazine

Judge throws out Tyson Beef case verdict

April 28, 2004
According to the Associated Press, a federal judge has thrown out a jury''s $1.28 billion verdict against the nation''s largest beef packer, Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., ruling Friday that it did not illegally manipulate cattle prices. U.S. Senior District Judge Lyle Strom said the cattlemen who sued the beef division of Tyson Foods failed to produce evidence at trial to support the verdict "with respect to both liability and damages." On Feb. 17, a federal court jury found Tyson Fresh Meats used its contracts with select cattle producers to create a captive supply of cattle that it used as leverage to drive down the price of cattle on the open, or cash, market. The jury found Tyson''s actions depressed the cash market by $1.28 billion between February 1994 and October 2002. The jury recommended awarding $1.28 billion to the entire class of producers. Six cattlemen sued Tyson Fresh Meats, known then as IBP Inc., in 1996 claiming the company''s use of these contracts, or marketing agreements, violated the federal Packers and Stockyards Act. The suit was granted class-action status, with the six plaintiffs claiming to represent as many as 30,000 ranchers who sold cattle to Tyson on the cash market during the time at issue.