Tyson suit goes to jury

(February 11, 2004) — (Montgomery, Alabama-AP) -- A lawsuit pitting cattlemen against Springdale-based Tyson Foods is in the hands of an Alabama jury. The lawsuit accuses Tyson of price manipulation. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked for two billion dollars in damages for cattlemen nationwide. According to plaintiffs, Tyson used contracts with select ranchers to create a captive supply of cattle that enabled the company to drive prices down. The company in closing arguments maintained instead that supply and demand drive the beef market. Concluding a monthlong trial, each side criticized the other's failure to produce concrete evidence and witnesses -- even though eight years have passed since six cattlemen filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of some 30-thousand producers who sold cattle to I-B-P Incorporated between February 1994 and October 2002. Tyson acquired I-B-P in 2001. The exact size of the plaintiffs' class is unknown.