Target joins list of retailers suing “big three” tuna companies over price-fixing

Published on
July 6, 2017

Retail giant Target has accused Bumble Bee Foods, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea of fixing prices of its canned tuna between 2010 and 2013, joining a long list of retailers suing the so-called “big three” tuna companies for price-fixing.

Target’s suit, filed 13 June, has been moved from its home state of Minnesota into California, where it has been assigned to Judge Janis L. Sammartino, who has also been assigned suits filed against the tuna companies by 24 other retailers, including Walmart, SuperValu, Wegmans, Kroger, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Publix, and Meijer, among others.

The suit filed by Target is the first to include as supporting evidence the criminal case recently launched against former Starkist Senior Vice president of Sales Stephen L. Hodge, who was charged with conspiracy in early June.

Target’s case also includes the guilty pleas of Bumble Bee sales executives Kenneth Worsham and Walter Scott Cameron to conspiracy in December 2016, as well as Bumble Bee Foods’s admission of price-fixing in May in a criminal case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. The company agreed to pay a USD 25 million (EUR 22.8 million) as part of that agreement. 

“The Cameron and Worsham guilty pleas and the Bumble Bee plea agreement establish that a conspiracy did exist, and the charges filed against Hodge reinforce this conclusion,” the Target suit alleges. 

Through its lawsuit, Target is seeking unspecified damages from Bumble Bee Foods; Thai Union-owned Tri-Union Seafoods, which controls Chicken of the Sea; and StarKist, owned by Dongwon Industries.

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