Kroger, Hy-Vee, Albertson’s, H.E. Butt settle price-fixing suit against Chicken of the Sea

U.S. retailers Kroger, Hy-Vee, Albertson’s, and H.E. Butt Grocery Co. (H-E-B) have settled a class-action lawsuit filed against Chicken of the Sea stemming from price-fixing allegations in the canned tuna sector that first emerged in 2015.

Chicken of the Sea International, a division of Thai Union, played the role of whistleblower in the price-fixing scandal that  resulted in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, and the ultimate prosecution of StarKist and Bumble Bee Foods, its primary competitors in the U.S. canned tuna market. Both companies eventually pleaded guilty to charges of price-fixing and received multimillion-dollar fines. Chicken of the Sea received immunity for its role in assisting the DOJ with the case, but it remains open to civil litigation stemming from its own admitted involvement in the price-fixing.

In a 3 December filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the so-called Kroger direct action plaintiffs, which include the four retail chains, requested their claims for damages be dismissed “pursuant to a stipulation between the parties.”

Neither party has publicly disclosed the settlement amount. The Kroger group of plaintiffs filed suit against Chicken of the Sea in 2016. They previously reached a settlement with StarKist in March 2019.

Kroger operates 2,752 U.S. supermarkets; Albertsons has 2,252 U.S. grocery stores; Hy-vee operates an estimated 245 U.S. stores; and H.E.B. has 340 locations throughout Texas and Mexico.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock


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