Wal-Mart, Tyson lose in court

(February 18, 2004) — (Undated-AP) -- Two of the biggest names in Arkansas industry received bad news from federal juries on opposite sides of the country yesterday. In Alabama, cattlemen won a lawsuit that claimed Tyson Foods manipulated beef prices. In Oregon, Wal-Mart workers prevailed on a claim that they were forced to work overtime for free. In the Tyson case out of Montgomery, Alabama - jurors awarded cattlemen nearly one-point-three billion dollars. The cattlemen said Tyson Fresh Meats Incorporated used contracts with a select group of ranchers to create a captive supply of beef. They argued the move let Tyson avoid the cash market for cattle when prices were high and re-enter the market when prices fell. Attorneys for Tyson said they planned to appeal the verdict. The final bill on the award will depend on the number of cattlemen affected and the amount of damages per animal. In Portland, Oregon, jurors said 83 Wal-Mart workers were entitled to compensation for unpaid overtime. The jury took up each case individually and rejected payments for 25 workers. Fourteen months ago, a jury said Wal-Mart made workers at 18 stores work overtime without pay. The second phase of the trial was held to determine who should receive pay. A next phase will determine how much they should receive. Wal-Mart said it was disappointed and said any unpaid overtime was performed in violation of company policy.