MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Checks are out to 400,000 Wash. households from $40M price-fixing settlement

Dec 6, 2023, 2:52 PM | Updated: 3:09 pm

ferguson tuna chicken...

WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson unveiled a landmark restitution effort today, with his office issuing checks to hundreds of thousands of households across Washington. This initiative follows successful antitrust litigations against major chicken and tuna corporations found guilty of price-fixing.

Ferguson’s office aims to provide $40.6 million in financial redress to households with incomes at or below 175% of the federal poverty level. Approximately 402,200 Washington households are set to receive these reimbursements, benefitting over 1.2 million residents, constituting around 15% of the state’s population.

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The breakdown of payments includes $50 checks for approximately 134,100 single-person households, while households with two or more residents will receive $120 each, totaling $38.9 million in direct payments.

The initial batch of checks, totaling $35.5 million in recoveries from 15 of 19 broiler chicken producers, was dispatched on Dec. 5, with all payments slated for delivery before Dec. 31. For those who believe they qualify but haven’t received a check by the end of the year, a claims form is available at the State of Washington King County Superior Court’s website. Users can submit a claim within six months.

“When powerful interests break the law and harm Washingtonians, my office holds them accountable,” Ferguson stated, stressing the importance of this restitution. “Washington families were cheated by corporate price-fixing conspiracies they knew nothing about.”

These refunds are specifically targeted to aid those Washingtonians most affected by the price-fixing schemes Ferguson said. Examples provided by Ferguson’s office include various family structures and income brackets, offering relief to those struggling due to corporate malpractice.

Some of the history of this case

The Attorney General’s Office’s pursuit of 19 broiler chicken producers highlighted a conspiracy dating back to at least 2008, inflating prices and manipulating bids, actions deemed unlawful under Washington antitrust laws. The litigation uncovered coordinated efforts to stifle production and manipulate pricing through information exchanges and industry-wide collaborations.

Notably, the restitution stems not only from the chicken industry but also from legal actions against major tuna companies. Recoveries amounting to over $5.1 million were secured, including resolutions with companies like StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and sanctions against Dongwon, among others.

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A against the remaining co-conspirators scheduled for October 2024. These companies include Foster Farms, Wayne-Sanderson Farms, Wayne Farms and House of Raeford Farms.

The claims administrator will reserve $1.7 million for eligible households that may not receive initial payments, offering avenues for claims until June 5, 2024, in multiple languages. Individuals seeking more information or assistance regarding eligibility can reach out via phone at (866) 601-1516 or through email at refundcheck@atg.wa.gov.

You can read more of Matt Markovich’s stories here. Follow Matt on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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Checks are out to 400,000 Wash. households from $40M price-fixing settlement