A jury unanimously ruled in favour of three Midwestern cattle producers who bought a class action suit against Tyson, Cargill and Swift, ordering the companies to pay damages of US$4m, $3m and $2.25m respectively.
The cattlemen claimed that a pricing error made by the US Department of Agriculture between 2 April and 11 May 2001 cost them a reported $43m in lost revenue. The cattlemen claimed that the meatpacking corporations knowingly used the pricing error to pay less for select cuts of beef.
“While we’re disappointed by the jury’s decision, this case is not over and if the verdict is entered by the court we intend to appeal. As noted during the trial, our company was unaware of the USDA price reporting mistake until it was publicly announced. At all times we dealt fairly with cattle producers during the period in question, and paid all amounts agreed upon for cattle,” Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson is quoted as saying in US newspaper The Morning News.