Jury orders egg suppliers to pay $17.7 million in damages for price gouging in 2000s

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. conspiracy / kənˈspɪr ə si / (n.) – the act of secretly planning with other people to do something harmful or illegal

    The detectives discovered a conspiracy to steal valuable paintings from the museum.

  2. juror / ˈdʒʊər ər / (n.) – a person who is part of a jury or a group that listens to the evidence in a court and decides if someone is guilty or not guilty

    To help with their decision, the jurors listened carefully to the lawyers’ arguments.

  3. verdict / ˈvɜr dɪkt / (n.) – (in law) a decision made by a judge or jury about a case in court

    The judge gave a “not guilty” verdict based on the evidence provided by the lawyers.

  4. attorney / əˈtɜr ni / (n.) – a lawyer

    I hired an attorney to help me with writing a legal document.

  5. defendant / dɪˈfɛn dənt / (n.) – a person being accused of a crime

    The defendants claim that they did not steal the money.


Read the text below.

A federal jury in Illinois ordered $17.7 million in damages—an amount tripled to more than $53 million under federal law—to several food manufacturing companies who had sued major egg producers over a conspiracy to limit the egg supply in the U.S.

The jury ruled that the egg producers used various means to limit the domestic supply of eggs to increase the price of products during the 2000s. The time frame of the conspiracy was an issue throughout the case; jurors ultimately determined damages occurred between 2004 and 2008.

The damages verdict was reached on December 1 in the Northern District of Illinois. According to federal antitrust law, the damages are automatically tripled, bringing the total to over $53 million. Court documents on the verdict were not readily available the evening of December 1, but statements from the manufacturers’ attorney and one of the egg producers confirmed a total of about $17.7 million.

“We are extremely grateful for the jury’s service and findings,” Brandon Fox, an attorney representing the food manufacturers, said in a statement. “This was an important case for many reasons, and the jury’s award recognizes its significance.”

Court documents show that the defendants have denied the claims.

The egg suppliers include the family company of its former Chair John Rust, who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Indiana. In a written statement on the verdict, Rust said the jury’s decision “will be appealed.”

The jury found that the egg suppliers exported eggs abroad to reduce the overall supply in the domestic market, as well as limited the number of chickens through means including cage space, early slaughter, and flock reduction, court documents say.

Food manufacturers joining as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the egg producers are Kraft Foods Global, Inc., The Kellogg Company, General Mills, Inc., and Nestle USA, Inc. The jury found the egg suppliers who participated in the conspiracy were Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., United Egg Producers, Inc., United States Egg Marketers, Inc. and Rose Acre Farms, Inc., a southern Indiana-based company previously chaired by Rust.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Brandon Fox said that this case about the egg producers is very important for many reasons. Why do you think this is such an important case (ex. because of its economic impact, because many producers were involved)? Discuss.
  • The jurors determined that the damages were done back in 2004 to 2008. Why do you think the plaintiffs pursued this case, even though the damages occurred years ago (ex. to seek justice, to initiate changes in the policies)? How do you think this will impact the egg industry and the businesses relying on it? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Court documents show that the defendants have denied the claims and that they “will appeal” the jury’s decision. What’s your perspective on companies appealing jury decisions in cases like this? Should they have the right to appeal the verdict? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How might this case impact the public perception of the egg producers involved in the case (ex. they will lose customer trust, nothing will change)? Do you think that they could regain consumers’ trust in their companies because of the appeal? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Top Stories