Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cattlemen lose verdict at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals but go away with an English lesson. 071586P.pdf 01/29/2008 Herman Schumacher v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 07-1586 and No: 07-1588 and No: 07-1590 U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota - Aberdeen [PUBLISHED] [Beam, Author, with Melloy and Shepherd, Circuit Judges] The Packers and Stockyards Act Section 202(e) (7 U.S.C. § 192(e)) did not apply when Packers who paid cattlemen less for their livestock because the US Department of Agriculture published erroneous "cut-out" prices for six weeks in 2001 (Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMRA)7 U.S.C. § 1635f). Cattlemen sued several large meatpackers for violating the Packers and Stockyards Act when the USDA's published prices for packers' cut-out prices were too low. Cut-out prices are the average of separate boxed beef prices. The jury found for the cattlemen on their 202(e) {market manipulation} complaint that the packers' reliance on the erroneous price data was unlawful control of the cattle market. The cattlemen lost their 202(a) {price discrimination} complaint at trial. Eighth Circuit reverses, finding 202(e) liability for the "effect of manipulating or controlling prices" required intentional conduct. "Controlling" is to the Eighth Circuit just a little nicer version of "manipulating" so either way, the plaintiffs needed to prove intent, which they did not. Reversed with directions to dismiss. "Or" (can be) interpretative or expository of the preceding word. For instance, "or" is often used in the sense of "to wit," "that is to say," or simply a broadened or narrowed explanation of the same thing. We find that Congress intended "or" to be given an explanatory interpretation. Indeed, "manipulate," according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, is defined in terms of control. Thus, under the statute, control is simply a more benign and slightly less invidious way of achieving manipulation, both requiring an intentional act to animate the result. In sum, we conclude that to prove a violation of § 202(e), a plaintiff must show that a packer intentionally committed unlawful conduct. Therefore, the district court erred when it instructed the jury that a showing of intent was not required and reversal of the district court is necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps most shocking of all was that the court reversed with directions to dismiss i.e. didn't order a new trial. So now that the plaintiffs have learned what the 8th Circuit says the law is, they aren't given a chance to prove their case under that "new" interpretation.

Jeanelle Lust