In False Claims Act (FCA) litigation arising from the sale to the U.S. Department of Agriculture of beef processed from the alleged abuse of downer cattle, WestlandMeat Co. has reportedly agreed to pay more than $3 million, or most of its owners and investors’ remaining assets. United States ex rel. The Humane Soc’y of the U.S. v. Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., No. 08-0221 (C.D. Cal., judgment filed November 27, 2013).

The Humane Society had whistleblower videos showing slaughterhouse employees kicking, beating and dragging disabled cattle to slaughter, prompting the largest recall of beef in U.S. history over bovine spongiform encephalopathy concerns. Details about the video appear in Issue 247 of this Update. The agreement apparently reduces the bankrupt company’s liability to some $155 million, from a previous treble damages judgment of nearly $500 million. According to a news source, the case involved disputed topics under FCA case law: implied certification and damages calculations. See Law360, November 27, 2013.


Issue 506

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.