A federal judge has ordered Pilgrim's Pride Corp. to pay 91 growers in the El Dorado, Ark., area $25.8 million in damages. The growers in Arkansas and Louisiana were affected by the company's decision to close its El Dorado plant in 2010.

Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham IV of the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division ruled in the growers favor finding that the corporation's decision to idle its El Dorado plant was "motivated by a desire to manipulate the price of chicken", thereby violating an anti-trust law, reports KATV News. The individual growers will receive between $9,000 and $900,000. Pilgrim's Pride has 30 days to file a notice of appeal, and the appeal process could take more than a year.

The farmers argued that when the El Dorado plant shut down, they faced foreclosure, bankruptcy, and emotional distress. The growers still hope Pilgrim's Pride will either sell its idled El Dorado plant or re-open it.

Pilgrim's Pride did not comment on the decision, but a previous comment from a company spokesman indicated that the company planned to re-open two idled facilities by 2012.

Source: KATV News