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Case Name Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc. IM-TN-0001
Docket / Court 4:02-cv-00023 ( E.D. Tenn )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Immigration
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 ... read more >
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.

Christopher Schad - 07/09/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Employer sanctions
Employment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)
Defendant(s) Tyson Foods, Inc.
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.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
4:01-cr-00061 (E.D. Tenn) 05/19/2003
IM-TN-0001-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:02-cv-00023 (E.D. Tenn) 10/31/2008
IM-TN-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum [and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss] 08/16/2002 (214 F.Supp.2d 840) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
[Sixth Circuit] Opinion [Reversing the District Court's Order] 06/03/2004 (370 F.3d 602)
IM-TN-0001-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Second Amended Complaint 06/24/2005
IM-TN-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] 02/08/2006 (2006 WL 319022 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17448) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0012 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings] 09/18/2006 (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Amendment of the Court's September 18 Order to Permit Interlocutory Appeal] 09/29/2006 (2006 WL 2868980 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 71500) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0014 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification] 10/10/2006 (2006 WL 2924938 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 74114) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Instructing Defendants Not to Redact Certain Sections of Documents Submitted for In Camera Review] 03/28/2007 (2007 WL 951869 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 23329) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0015 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum [and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment] 04/10/2007 (2007 WL 1091217 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 26611) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0016 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum [and Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss] 05/29/2007 (2007 WL 1574275 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 38882) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0017 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum [and Order Approving Class Notice as Modified by the Order] 12/03/2007 (2007 WL 4260817 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 88866) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0018 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum [and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony] 01/31/2008 (2008 WL 305032 / 2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 7284) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0019 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [and Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Dismissing Plaintiffs' Claims With Prejudice] 02/13/2008 (543 F.Supp.2d 842) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0020 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Memorandum [and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Reconsider] 05/02/2008 (2008 WL 1984264 / 2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 33101) (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0021 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Carter, William B. (E.D. Tenn) [Magistrate]
IM-TN-0001-9000
Collier, Curtis Lynn (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0002 | IM-TN-0001-0013 | IM-TN-0001-0014 | IM-TN-0001-0015 | IM-TN-0001-0016 | IM-TN-0001-0017 | IM-TN-0001-0018 | IM-TN-0001-0019 | IM-TN-0001-0020 | IM-TN-0001-0021 | IM-TN-0001-9000
Edgar, Robert Allan (E.D. Tenn)
IM-TN-0001-0010 | IM-TN-0001-0012 | IM-TN-0001-9001
Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Sixth Circuit)
IM-TN-0001-0011
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berman, Steve W. (Washington)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Colvin, William G. (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-0001 | IM-TN-0001-9000
Combs, Tammy O (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Foster, Howard W. (Illinois)
IM-TN-0001-0001 | IM-TN-0001-9000
Greenholtz, Thomas Clifton (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Johnson, William V (Illinois)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Maccoon, John P. (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Morris, Matthew T (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Thacker, Stephanie Dawn (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Volk, Andrew M. (Washington)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adler, Robert M (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Creswell, C Celeste (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Dickson, Roger W (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Dillard, W. Thomas (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Green, Thomas C (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9000 | IM-TN-0001-9001
Harwell, Aubrey B. Jr. (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Holmes, P. K. III (Arkansas)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Hopson, Mark Daniel (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9000 | IM-TN-0001-9001
Knight, Paul L (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Koller, Julie G (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Lauerman, Colleen M (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9000
McDonough, Travis Randall (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Shemin, Kenneth R (Arkansas)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Steger, Christopher H (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9000 | IM-TN-0001-9001
Trant, Douglas A (Tennessee)
IM-TN-0001-9001
Volpe, Frank R. (New York)
IM-TN-0001-9000 | IM-TN-0001-9001
Warren, Matthew J. (District of Columbia)
IM-TN-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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