On July 16, 2012, defendant Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. argued in its trial brief in Adams v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (E.D. Tex.), that Louisiana chicken growers have no standing to sue Pilgrim’s Pride for alleged antitrust violations under Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (LUTPA). The LUTPA claims in the Adams case are asserted by former chicken growers for Pilgrim’s Pride’s former Farmerville, Louisiana plant. They claim that Pilgrim’s Pride idled the plant for the purpose of raising the price of chicken produced by Pilgrim’s Pride at other plants, allegedly in violation of Section 192(e) of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the LUTPA.
In its trial brief, Pilgrim’s Pride argues that the LUTPA claims are not viable, since under Fifth Circuit authority only direct consumers or business competitors have standing to assert LUTPA claims, and the Farmerville contract growers were neither consumers nor competitors, but suppliers of services. The brief acknowledges that in Cheramie Services, Inc. v. Shell Deepwater Prod., Inc., 35 So. 3d 1053 (La. 2010), three of seven justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that the LUTPA does not clearly limit private rights of action to consumers or business competitors. Pilgrim’s Pride argues, however, that since this was not the holding of a majority of the Court, it is not binding on lower courts under Louisiana law, and thus does not abrogate the referenced Fifth Circuit interpretation of the LUTPA.