Full Defense Verdict in One of the Largest-Ever Agriculture Industry Antitrust Trials in the U.S.

NEW YORK, October 26, 2023 – Proskauer, a leading international law firm, announced today that it secured a landmark victory for Sanderson Farms in a blockbuster broiler chicken antitrust conspiracy case. Following a six-week trial, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois delivered a full defense verdict, rejecting the Plaintiffs’ claims that alleged that Sanderson Farms participated in a supply reduction conspiracy with other producers in the broiler industry between 2008 and 2012.

The Proskauer team defeated $7 billion in damages claims, which – had the jury ruled against Sanderson Farms – would have been tripled by statute to $21 billion. The defense verdict was one of the largest-ever antitrust jury trial wins involving the U.S. agriculture industry.

“We are pleased that, after a full and fair trial, the jury has rendered a unanimous verdict in favor of Sanderson Farms on all counts. Today’s verdict vindicates Sanderson Farms and shows that the Plaintiffs’ case ignored fundamental truths about Sanderson Farms and the nature of the chicken industry,” said Jeremy Kilburn, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer at Wayne-Sanderson Farms.

“We thank Sanderson Farms for using Proskauer as their trial team and for being a true partner throughout the trial, and for having the confidence that they would be vindicated. We focused on presenting the clear evidence that Sanderson was the only company to build and ramp up new production plants during an alleged supply reduction conspiracy, and that different companies made individual production decisions during the crisis of the Great Recession and high feed costs. We appreciate the jury’s efforts in such a long trial, and for returning a verdict that there was no conspiracy,” said Chris Ondeck, Co-Chair of Proskauer’s Antitrust Group.

The Proskauer team was led by partners Chris OndeckColin CabralKyle Casazza and Shawn Ledingham, senior counsel Stephen Chuk, associates Henrique CarneiroJustin CohenBryan CruzJared DuBosarJessica GriffithEmily KlineShannon McGowanShiva PedramHannah Silverman and Simona Weil, and legal assistants Jeff Soldridge, Julia Zaiser, Adam Tolson and Nikhil Sadaranganey (Litigation). The team also included partner John Roberts, senior counsel Scott Eggers, associates Tara BraileyAdam Deming and Kelly Landers Hawthorne, and legal assistants Emma Keane, Jordan Caloras, Aliyah Kilpatrick, Anna Prusko and Madison Wilson.

About Proskauer

We are 800+ lawyers serving clients from 12 offices located in the leading financial and business centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. We work with asset managers, private equity and venture capital firms, Fortune 500 and FTSE companies, major sports leagues, entertainment industry legends and industry-redefining companies.

Proskauer has a full-service litigation practice with extensive trial experience in virtually every major forum across the globe. We take a collaborative approach to representing defendants and plaintiffs, multinationals, middle-market and small-cap businesses, financial institutions, partnerships and individuals, with one thing in mind – driving successful outcomes for our clients.

We win make-or-break cases, change laws and establish precedents. Our litigators cover the full spectrum of complex commercial litigation practice areas and handle the complete range of sophisticated litigation, trial, appellate and counseling, as well as government contractor issues and investigations. Our prowess in the field consistently earns the highest accolades, receiving a top-tier rankings in Chambers and recognized as leaders by The Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation, among others.

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Photo of Christopher E. Ondeck Christopher E. Ondeck

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s Antitrust Group and co-head of the Washington DC office. He represents clients in complex antitrust and consumer protection litigation, defends mergers and acquisitions before the U.S. antitrust agencies, represents companies involved in government investigations, and counsels…

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s Antitrust Group and co-head of the Washington DC office. He represents clients in complex antitrust and consumer protection litigation, defends mergers and acquisitions before the U.S. antitrust agencies, represents companies involved in government investigations, and counsels on antitrust compliance. Chris is also the founder and leader of the firm’s Price Gouging Practice, and is one of the key thought leaders in this space.

Chris handles antitrust matters for clients in a number of industries, including food and agriculture, financial services, media, telecom, technology, e-commerce, consumer products, natural resources, oil and gas, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.  He also serves as outside counsel to a large number of industry groups, including trade associations and cooperatives.

Chris has been recognized as a leading antitrust practitioner by Chambers, noting that clients describe him as “our primary thought partner – he’s very good at explaining the complex issues and making them easy to understand” and praising “his strong advocacy skills”; by The National Law Review as a “Go To Thought Leader 2020”; by Acritas as a “Star” in multiple years; by Benchmark Litigation as a National Litigation Star 2021; and by The Legal 500 United States for Antitrust: Civil Litigation/Class Actions.

Photo of Colin G. Cabral Colin G. Cabral

Colin Cabral is the co-head of Proskauer’s Patent Litigation Group. Colin is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer specializing in complex intellectual property and contract disputes.

Colin represents pharmaceutical, private equity, biotech, and medical device companies in high-stakes commercial litigation in the life…

Colin Cabral is the co-head of Proskauer’s Patent Litigation Group. Colin is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer specializing in complex intellectual property and contract disputes.

Colin represents pharmaceutical, private equity, biotech, and medical device companies in high-stakes commercial litigation in the life sciences industry. He also serves as lead counsel in patent and trade secret matters involving a wide range of technologies, including computer software, electronic devices, and consumer products.

Recently, Colin has tried multiple cases for pharmaceutical companies and investors in contract disputes arising out of unsuccessful drug development programs and the exercise of “commercially reasonable efforts.”

In 2017, Colin was named to Benchmark Litigation’s Under 40 Hotlist, which recognizes attorneys under the age of 40 who “have been deemed the most promising emerging talent in their respective litigation communities . . . by peers and clients.”

Previously, Colin served as in-house litigation counsel for a global life sciences company. He also served as a Special Assistant District Attorney in Dorchester, MA.

Colin volunteers as regular faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the firm’s trial advocacy training program. He is Board Chairman of FreeFrom, a charitable organization that helps survivors of domestic violence achieve financial independence. He is also a former board member of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA).

Photo of Kyle Casazza Kyle Casazza

Kyle Casazza is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of the Trial Strategies practice, where he focuses on all areas of complex commercial litigation. Kyle has significant plaintiff and defense-side experience in jury and bench trials in both state and…

Kyle Casazza is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of the Trial Strategies practice, where he focuses on all areas of complex commercial litigation. Kyle has significant plaintiff and defense-side experience in jury and bench trials in both state and federal courts. He has represented major companies in a wide array of industries, including sports, biologics and small-molecule pharmaceuticals, financial services, media and entertainment, technology, oil and gas, and aerospace. Kyle has also defended lawyers and law firms in connection with claims by both clients and non-clients arising from the performance of professional services.

Kyle has worked on a number of civil and criminal antitrust matters, representing clients both in court and with the Department of Justice. He has also participated in internal accident investigations for aerospace companies.

In his pro bono work, Kyle has argued in front of the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of Brady, defending a proposed ballot initiative to ban certain assault weapons. In a leading-edge lawsuit against the United States Navy, Kyle secured a discharge upgrade for a veteran who had experienced military sexual trauma. Kyle also serves as a board member for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Kyle graduated first in his class from the USC Gould School of Law in May 2007. Following graduation, Kyle clerked for the Honorable Sandra Segal Ikuta, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Kyle graduated from the USC Thornton School of Music in 2003, and as a drummer has studied and performed with numerous award-winning musicians, including Gregg Bissonette, Gregg Field, Tommy Igoe, Ed Shaughnessy, and Menzie Pittman.

Kyle is an award-winning BBQ pitmaster, and has served as an elected board member of the California BBQ Association, a 501(c)(3) organization created to raise money to support the health and education of needy children; support emergency disaster relief efforts, including any individuals who are serving or have served as first responders; and support active duty members or veterans of any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Photo of Shawn S. Ledingham Jr. Shawn S. Ledingham Jr.

Shawn Ledingham is a partner in the firm’s Trial Strategies practice, successful in obtaining victories through motion practice and defending client interests at trial. He has represented over thirty Fortune 500 companies and subsidiaries in litigation, as well as many other businesses, sports…

Shawn Ledingham is a partner in the firm’s Trial Strategies practice, successful in obtaining victories through motion practice and defending client interests at trial. He has represented over thirty Fortune 500 companies and subsidiaries in litigation, as well as many other businesses, sports leagues, law firms, and public entities.

Shawn is a member of the firm’s Sports Law Group and has a deep understanding of the legal framework of today’s sports industry. Shawn has represented and counseled a wide range of sports leagues and teams, including Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the Pac-12 Conference, the Big East Conference, the World Surf League, the Drone Racing League, and Oracle Team USA.

Shawn also has substantial experience in toxic tort, product liability, and environmental litigation. A member of the firm’s Product Liability & Consumer Litigation Group, Shawn defends clients in cases of alleged environmental contamination, product design or manufacturing defects, and improper or inadequate labeling.

Shawn is actively involved in promoting justice in his community and is a member of Proskauer’s Pro Bono Committee.  During the summer of 2019, Shawn served as a pro bono prosecutor with the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney, prosecuting three jury trials as sole trial counsel and resolving many other cases short of trial. Shawn also served as counsel to the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, investigating excessive use of force by deputies within the county jail system. For his work on jail reform, Shawn received the ACLU of Southern California’s Community Service Pro Bono Award and a commendation from the County of Los Angeles.

While in law school, Shawn was managing editor of the New York University Law Review.