Chick-fil-A is suing several poultry producers, alleging that the companies fixed prices and caused the fast-food chain to pay inflated prices on billions of dollars worth of chicken.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, comes after the Justice Department in June said a federal grand jury in Colorado found that executives from Colorado-based Pilgrim's Pride and Georgia-based Claxton Poultryand rig bids for broiler chickens from at least 2012 to 2017.
Claxton's customers include Chick-fil-A, and the company is named as one of the defendants in the most recent lawsuit.
Perdue Farms, also named in the lawsuit, said, "We believe these claims are unfounded and plan to contest the merits." Claxton and other poultry producers named in the lawsuit didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the allegations of price fixing are true, higher poultry costs could have been passed onto customers of the popular fast-food chain. Chick-fil-A "purchased billions of dollars worth of broiler chicken from defendants and/or their co-conspirators throughout the relevant period at prices that were artificially inflated due to the conduct outlined below," the lawsuit claims.
Chick-fil-A is seeking unspecified damages and to recoup legal fees. The company, which didn't immediately return a request for comment, alleges that a number of the defendants "communicated via phone and text message in order to share and coordinate confidential bidding and pricing information" in connection with Chick-fil-A's broiler purchases.