Fishermen’s suit against Pacific Seafood gets class action status

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by Steve Larson

Federal District Court Judge Panner has granted class action status to a federal lawsuit filed by two fishermen against Clackamas-based Pacific Seafood Group, the nation’s largest seafood company.

Brookings fishermen Lloyd Whaley and Todd Whaley claim that Pacific Seafood Group illegally exploits its market power as a wholesaler to pay fishermen below-market prices for whiting, groundfish and shrimp from Northern California to the Canadian border.  They also allege that Pacific Seafood illegally conspired with another processor, Washington-based Ocean Gold Seafoods, to suppress prices for whiting.

Both companies have denied the allegations.  Pacific said it has benefited fishermen by opening up new markets, putting more fishermen to work and allowing them to earn more than they would without the company’s buying power and influence.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs estimate that 1,500 fishermen could potentially tap into the $67 million to $83 million in damages being sought.