Do v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 2006 WL 2290556(E.D.Tex. Aug 09, 2006) (NO. CIV.A. 9:05CV238)
Judge: Chief Judge Thad Heartfield
Holding: Motion to Dismiss GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
According to the opinion, plaintiffs alleged the following scheme:
(1) Advertise chicken farm with promises of long term contracts by Pilgrim's Pride. Require the buyer to use specific bankers and appraisers who will confirm a grossly inflated price for the property;
(2) Reward the Bankers and Appraisers with a steady stream of farmers selling and buying Pilgrim's Pride farms-they will get appraisal costs, and closing costs;
(3) Arbitrarily demand and extract capital improvements from the farmers until you get all you can out of them;
(4) Terminate the contract with the farmer, rendering the farm worthless;
(5) Once the farmer is in this position, give him the option to participate in the scheme or foreclose on the house at a lower price; and
(6) Return to step one.
If this sounds familiar, you must have read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in college. Each Defendant separately moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. (“RICO”), claims and all of Plaintiffs' state law claims. Judge Heartfield held that the plaintiffs had stated a claim upon which relief can be granted under RICO and, given the nature of the claims, the pleadings are sufficiently clear. Because it was not disputed that federal question jurisdiction was proper under the RICO statutes, the court concluded that jurisdiction was also proper. The motions raised issues that may be properly considered at the summary judgment stage, the Court concluded. Accordingly, Judge Heartfield declined to dismiss the entire case at this time - only Plaintiff Julie Do's claim for breach of contract.
(Photo of generic chickens not known to be related in any way to the pending litigation courtesy of Farm Sanctuary - http://www.sentientbeings.org )