Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. will pay over $10 million to New Mexico cattle feeder Zia Agricultural Consulting, LLC. The final judgment includes $2.5 million in actual damages and another $8 million in punitive damages.
In May 2020, Zia filed a suit against Tyson for a breach of contract. The trial went to court on July 11 and rendered a verdict on July 14, with the U.S. District Judge Margaret I. Strickland entering the final judgment.
Zia Agricultural Consulting, LLC is a company based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, owned by Narciso Perez and Sean Perez. Zia specializes in investing, sourcing, and producing commercial cattle. Zia entered into a business relationship with Tyson Meats in 2019, securing and feeding natural program cattle for Whole Foods, Inc. Cattle produced in the contract were entered into programs including GAP-certified and Non-Hormone Treated Cattle. The suit called the classes of cattle “Premium”.
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Zia alleged that the parties initially agreed to feed cattle in a “cost-plus model” that invoiced Tyson for Zia’s purchase of the feeder cattle, feed, and “plus” payments to the entity feeding and sourcing the cattle. However, Tyson argued that verbal pricing agreements were based on historical agreements between their company and Zia, which were factored from the “Nebraska Weighted Average,” plus a price per head premium.
During the verdict on July 14, the jury found that the agreement between Zia and Tyson was contractual – and that Tyson had breached this contract.
Zia has faced other lawsuits regarding breach of contract: among these, a suit in 2021 by Kottke Cattle, LLC and a 2019 suit by John Attwood.