US v. Penn, et al.

A team from Analysis Group supported affiliated expert Professor Edward A. Snyder, who provided testimony on behalf of defendants in a criminal antitrust price-fixing matter brought by the federal government. The defendants were former executives at leading poultry processing companies.

In the matter (US v. Penn, et al.), the US Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that the defendants engaged in an agreement to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens between 2012 and 2019. The DOJ charged the defendants with criminal violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act for an alleged conspiracy to restrain trade. Following a hung jury in two prior trials, the DOJ took the unprecedented step of trying the case a third time.

In all three trials, an Analysis Group team led by Managing Principal Andrea Okie, and including Principal Mark Lewis and Vice Presidents Kevin Gallagher, David Smith, and Ishita Rajani, supported the defense and Professor Snyder, William S. Beinecke Professor of Economics and Management, Yale School of Management.

In his expert analysis assessing whether there was economic evidence consistent with a price-fixing agreement, Professor Snyder testified that his analysis of objective economic data did not support the DOJ’s theory of price-fixing and bid rigging. He testified that information exchanges are expected in the broiler chicken industry and do not indicate price-fixing. He also showed that pricing patterns were inconsistent with the DOJ’s theory and that the at-issue prices were not systematically higher than a set of benchmark prices analyzed for the case. Professor Snyder, instead, found that the at-issue prices and price changes were consistent with the supply and demand conditions in the broiler chicken industry.

Following the third trial, spanning five weeks in the US District Court for the District of Colorado, a jury acquitted all defendants.

The case was awarded “Behavioural Matter of the Year – Americas” at Global Competition Review’s (GCR’s) 2023 antitrust awards, which recognize “creative, strategic, and innovative work by teams of in-house and external lawyers and economists.”