(Meredith) -- If you are one of the many Americans who purchased chicken over the last decade, you may be eligible to receive money from a $181 million class-action settlement.
A lawsuit alleges several poultry companies, including Tyson and Peco Foods, conspired to stabilize the price and supply of chicken in the U.S. from January 2009 to December 2020, violating federal and state consumer and antitrust laws.
The companies have not admitted to any liability and continue to deny all allegations of wrongdoing. Still, some have agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the further "expense, inconvenience, disruption, and burden of this litigation," according to a legal notice from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC (the two law firms representing the plaintiffs in the case).
Before any money is paid, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will hold a hearing on Dec. 20, 2021, to decide whether to approve the settlements.
Which companies are involved?
The defendants who opted to settle the lawsuit are listed below, as outlined in the legal notice:
Fieldale Farms Corporation
George’s Inc. and George's Farms, Inc.
Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc.
Peco Foods, Inc.
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation
Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson Chicken, Inc., Tyson Breeders, Inc., and Tyson Poultry, Inc.
Who can file a claim?
According to the case website, anyone who indirectly purchased fresh or frozen raw chicken from the companies involved in the settlement is eligible to file a claim.
Applicable meat products include whole birds (with or without giblets), whole cut-up birds purchased within a package, "white meat" parts including breasts and wings, or cuts containing a combination of these.
Customers cannot file a claim for chicken marketed as halal, kosher, free-range, or organic.
Additionally, the eligible chicken products must have been purchased in select states within certain time frames from Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2020.
The select states include: California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
All settlement funds that remain after the payment of court-ordered attorneys' fees and litigation expenses will be distributed to eligible parties on a pro rata basis when the lawsuit concludes.
How do I submit a claim?
Those interested in filing a claim can do so by providing their details at the case website: www.overchargedforchicken.com.
Consumers can check their eligibility and submit a claim by Dec. 31, 2022.