Case: Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

4:02-cv-00023 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee

Filed Date: April 2, 2002

Closed Date: Oct. 20, 2008

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In December 2001, a federal grand jury returned a 36-count indictment against Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's largest poultry processor, and several individuals, charging the defendants with conspiring to smuggle undocumented aliens into the U.S. and employing them at Tyson's chicken processing plants throughout the country. Shortly after the criminal indictment, plaintiffs filed a nationwide class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee against Tyson and several…

In December 2001, a federal grand jury returned a 36-count indictment against Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's largest poultry processor, and several individuals, charging the defendants with conspiring to smuggle undocumented aliens into the U.S. and employing them at Tyson's chicken processing plants throughout the country. Shortly after the criminal indictment, plaintiffs filed a nationwide class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee against Tyson and several of its top management personnel, alleging civil violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq., and the Immigration Reform and Control Act ("IRCA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a), et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that Tyson engaged in a massive scheme to hire undocumented immigrants for the express purpose of depressing employee wages. The scheme allegedly involved the use of temporary employment agencies to recruit and lure undocumented immigrants from Mexico to work in its chicken plants. Plaintiffs further alleged that the scheme consisted of what plaintiffs termed a "willful blindness policy," which included management turning a blind eye to obviously fake work papers and ignoring other factors that suggested that the workers it hired were not legally entitled to work in the U.S. The civil case was initially assigned to Judge R. Allan Edgar.

Tyson and its officers responded by moving to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, asserting that plaintiffs' RICO claims were preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. Tyson also asserted that plaintiffs' complaint failed to state a claim, in that employee wages were the product of Union collective bargaining and therefore could not have resulted from the hiring of undocumented workers. The District Court (Chief Judge Edgar) granted the motion and dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 214 F. Supp. 2d 840 (E.D. Tenn. 2002) Plaintiffs appealed, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 370 F.3d 602 (6th Cir. 2004).

On remand, Tyson moved for summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds as to two of the plaintiffs. That motion was denied. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2006 WL 319022, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17448 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 8, 2006). Tyson also filed a second motion to dismiss the case on the pleadings, and that motion, too, was denied on September 18, 2006. The District Court (Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier) also denied defendants' request to certify its ruling for purposes of immediate appeal. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2006 WL 2868980, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71500 (E.D. Tenn. Sep. 29, 2006).

Shortly thereafter, the District Court (Chief Judge Collier) granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2006 WL 2924938, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74114 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 10, 2006). A case management conference was held in January 2007 and the Court entered a discovery schedule and set the case for trial on March 3, 2008.

In 2007, the District Court issued a series of rulings on a variety of discovery and procedural issues. See Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2007 WL 951869, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23329 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 28, 2007) (ordering defendants not to redact certain portions of Tyson company minutes submitted for in camera review); Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2007 WL 1091217, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26611 (E.D. Tenn. Apr. 10, 2007) (ruling that defendants are not entitled to affirmative defenses of estoppel and statute of limitations); Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2007 WL 1574275, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38882(E.D. Tenn. May 29, 2007) (denying Tyson's motion to dismiss); Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2007 WL 3231793 (E.D. Tenn. Oct 30, 2007) (denying motion to continue an expert witness hearing and the trial date); Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2007 WL 4260817, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88866 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 3, 2007) (approving class notice as modified by order). See also McGrew v. Trollinger, No. 4:02-cv-00023, 2007 WL 4106067 (W.D. Ark. Nov. 16, 2007) (ruling that witnesses in Arkansas that were subpoenaed for depositions had to appear.).

On February 13, 2008, the District Court (Chief Judge Collier) entered an order granting summary judgment for the defendants and dismissing the plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 543 F. Supp. 2d 842 (E.D. Tenn. 2008). The Court found that plaintiffs had failed to produce evidence demonstrating the presence of at least ten unauthorized employees at any given Tyson facility; it further found that plaintiffs' evidence only demonstrated that Tyson was harboring or concealing undocumented aliens at all at one facility, and that this evidence was insufficient to show proximate causation of any injuries.

The Court (Chief Judge Collier) denied a motion for reconsideration on May 2, Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2008 WL 1984264, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33101 (E.D. Tenn. May 2, 2008), and the case was closed.

Summary Authors

Christopher Schad (7/9/2012)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4812936/parties/trollinger-v-tyson-foods-inc/


Judge(s)

Batchelder, Alice Moore (Ohio)

Bell, Robert Holmes (Michigan)

Carter, William B. (Tennessee)

Collier, Curtis Lynn (Tennessee)

Edgar, Robert Allan (Tennessee)

Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berman, Steve W. (Washington)

Colvin, William G. (Tennessee)

Combs, Tammy O (Tennessee)

Foster, Howard W. (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Batchelder, Alice Moore (Ohio)

Bell, Robert Holmes (Michigan)

Carter, William B. (Tennessee)

Collier, Curtis Lynn (Tennessee)

Edgar, Robert Allan (Tennessee)

Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berman, Steve W. (Washington)

Colvin, William G. (Tennessee)

Combs, Tammy O (Tennessee)

Foster, Howard W. (Illinois)

Greenholtz, Thomas Clifton (Tennessee)

Johnson, William V (Illinois)

Maccoon, John P. (District of Columbia)

McMahan, John D (Tennessee)

Morris, Matthew T (Tennessee)

Thacker, Stephanie Dawn (District of Columbia)

Volk, Andrew M. (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Adler, Robert M (District of Columbia)

Creswell, C Celeste (Tennessee)

Dickson, Roger W (Tennessee)

Dillard, W. Thomas (Tennessee)

Green, Thomas C (District of Columbia)

Harwell, Aubrey B. Jr. (Tennessee)

Holmes, P. K. III (Arkansas)

Hopson, Mark Daniel (District of Columbia)

Knight, Paul L (District of Columbia)

Koller, Julie G (District of Columbia)

Lauerman, Colleen M (District of Columbia)

McDonough, Travis R. (Tennessee)

Seitz, Virginia A. (District of Columbia)

Shemin, Kenneth R (Arkansas)

Steger, Christopher H (Tennessee)

Trant, Douglas A (Tennessee)

Volpe, Frank R. (New York)

Warren, Matthew J. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

USA v. Tyson Foods, Inc

May 19, 2003 Docket

Docket [PACER]

Trollinger v. Tyson Foods

Oct. 31, 2008 Docket
21

Memorandum [and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss]

214 F.Supp.2d 840

Aug. 16, 2002 Order/Opinion

[Sixth Circuit] Opinion [Reversing the District Court's Order]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

370 F.3d 602

June 3, 2004 Order/Opinion
115

Second Amended Complaint

June 24, 2005 Complaint
157

Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment]

2006 WL 319022, 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17448

Feb. 8, 2006 Order/Opinion
174

Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings]

Sept. 18, 2006 Order/Opinion
179

Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Amendment of the Court's September 18 Order to Permit Interlocutory Appeal]

2006 WL 2868980, 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 71500

Sept. 29, 2006 Order/Opinion
182

Memorandum [and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification]

Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc

2006 WL 2924938, 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 74114

Oct. 10, 2006 Order/Opinion
280

Memorandum and Order [Instructing Defendants Not to Redact Certain Sections of Documents Submitted for In Camera Review]

2007 WL 951869, 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 23329

March 28, 2007 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4812936/trollinger-v-tyson-foods-inc/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
154

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: DENYING 145 MOTION for Sanctions Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 filed by Tyson Foods, Inc., John Tyson, Archibald Schaffer, III, Richard Bond, Kenneth Kimbro, Greg Lee, Karen Percival, Ahrazue Wilt, and Tim McCoy. Signed by Judge R Allan Edgar on 10/25/05. (KFB, )

Oct. 25, 2005 RECAP
157

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow. Signed by Judge R Allan Edgar on 2/8/06. (AWH, )

Feb. 8, 2006 RECAP
179

MEMORANDUM in support of the following order. Signed by Judge Curtis L Collier on 9/29/2006. (TJG, )

Sept. 29, 2006 RECAP
182

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow; Signed by Judge Curtis L Collier on 10/10/06. (AWH, )

Oct. 10, 2006 RECAP
263

ORDER granting motion to alter the deadlines for expert disclosures 246 ; Plaintiffs' initial expert disclosure is due on 3/15/07 and defendants' initial expert disclosures are due on 4/16/07. (AWH, )

March 5, 2007 RECAP
270

ORDER denying defendants' motion to stay of discovery 261 (AWH, )

March 9, 2007 RECAP
280

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re 238 MOTION for Discovery to Conduct In Camera Review of Board of Directors' Meetings filed by Regina Lee, Idoynia McCoy, Doris Jewell, Robert Martinez, Tabetha Eddings, Virginia Bravo, Birda Trollinger, Alexander Howlett, Kelly Kessinger, Patricia Mims, Lori Windham. Signed by Judge William B Carter on 3/28/07. (PCS)

March 28, 2007 RECAP
289

MEMORANDUM with Order to follow. Signed by Judge Curtis L Collier on 4/10/2007. (BJL )

April 10, 2007 RECAP
309

MEMORANDUM with ORDER to follow; Signed by Judge Curtis L Collier on 5/29/2007. (BJL )

May 29, 2007 RECAP
431

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow. Signed by Judge Curtis L Collier on 10/30/07. (AWH, )

Oct. 30, 2007 RECAP
458

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 12/3/07. (AWH, )

Dec. 3, 2007 RECAP
500

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 1/31/08. (AWH, )

Jan. 31, 2008 RECAP
533

MEMORANDUM with Judgment Order to follow. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 2/13/2008. (BJL )

Feb. 13, 2008 RECAP
549

MEMORANDUM w/order to follow. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 4/22/08. (AWH, )

April 22, 2008 RECAP
552

AMENDED MEMORANDUM (SEE CF #'S 549 AND 550) Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 5/2/08. (AWH, )

May 2, 2008 RECAP

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 2, 2002

Closing Date: Oct. 20, 2008

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All persons legally authorized to be employed in the United States who have been employed at the Tyson facilities since April 1998 through the present.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Tyson Foods, Inc., Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

Immigration/Border:

Employer sanctions

Employment