(March 30, 2022) New York, NY— A mistrial was declared in the second trial involving 10 poultry industry executives, including Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg LLP (RJLF) client Roger Austin, a former Vice President of Pilgrim's Pride, concerning an alleged scheme to fix prices and rig bids for chickens sold to grocery stores and restaurants.
The mistrial was announced on March 29, 2022 after jurors deadlocked and were unable to reach a verdict against any of the poultry executives, following a six-week jury trial before Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. In December 2021, the first mistrial was declared by Judge Brimmer when jurors deadlocked after a seven-week trial.
A new trial is set for June 6, 2022 in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to retry the case for the third time. Judge Brimmer ordered Jonathan Kanter, head of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, to meet next week noting “If the Government thinks that the 10 defendants and their attorneys and my staff and another group of jurors should spend six weeks retrying this case after the Government has failed in two attempts to convict even one defendant, then certainly Mr. Kanter has the time to come to Denver and explain to me why the Department of Justice thinks that is an appropriate thing to do.”
“For a second time, after many weeks of trial and a substantial amount of evidence or lack thereof, a jury has been unable to convict our client, or any of the other nine defendants, of any wrongdoing in connection with the allegations involving price fixing,” said RJLF partner Michael S. Feldberg, lead counsel for Defendant Roger Austin and head of the Firm’s White Collar Defense practice. “The jury should be commended for their commitment to this process and for resisting the Government’s efforts to convict these innocent men.”
The case stems from a DOJ indictment that charged 10 executives with criminal violations of the Sherman Act, which prosecutors alleged occurred as part of a scheme that purportedly lasted from 2012 to 2019 to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens—a $28 billion per year industry in the United States. The DOJ alleged the executives kept in close contact through text message, phone, and email to coordinate bids made to restaurants, grocery stores, and buying co-ops, according to prosecutors.
Along with Mr. Feldberg, the RJLF trial team included counsel Julie Withers and associates Laura E. Carwile, David A. King, Jr., and Parshad Brahmbhatt.
The case is U.S. v. Penn et al., case number 1:20-cr-00152, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
About Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg
Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg LLP (RJLF) is a majority women-owned national trial firm that handles high-stakes commercial litigation, intellectual property, and white collar disputes. RJLF’s attorneys are diverse, exceptionally credentialed, and passionate about trial advocacy. From offices in Silicon Valley, New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, the firm tries cases and argues appeals throughout the country. For more information, visit www.reichmanjorgensen.com.