Beyond Meat, Inc. Class Action Lawsuit
- Company Name
- Beyond Meat, Inc.
- Stock Symbol
- Class Period
- May 2, 2019 to January 27, 2020
- Central District of California
On January 30, 2020, the Beyond Meat, Inc. securities class action lawsuit was filed charging Beyond Meat and certain of its officers with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Beyond Meat securities class action lawsuit was commenced in the Central District of California on behalf of purchasers of Beyond Meat securities between May 2, 2019 and January 27, 2020 (the “Class Period”) and is captioned Tran v. Beyond Meat, Inc., et al., No. 20-cv-00963.
Beyond Meat is a food company that provides plant-based protein products that are sold as substitutes for beef, pork, and poultry. Beyond Meat sells its products to various customers in the retail and foodservice channels through brokers and distributors in the United States and internationally.
Don Lee Farms is a maker of plant-based and meat proteins. In 2014, Beyond Meat entered into an exclusive supply agreement with Don Lee to produce all of Beyond Meat’s products, including the development and launch of Beyond Meat’s popular Beyond Burger. In early 2017, following the launch of the Beyond Burger, Beyond Meat terminated the supply agreement and transferred its production from Don Lee to other food manufacturers. On May 25, 2017, Don Lee filed a complaint against Beyond Meat in the Los Angeles County Superior Court asserting claims for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair competition, seeking monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.
As the litigation progressed, Don Lee alleged that Beyond Meat had employed lax food safety practices during the two companies’ partnership, specifically alleging that Don Lee found plastics, cardboard, and a metal nozzle in ingredients that Beyond Meat supplied. Don Lee also alleged that Beyond Meat had provided an altered copy of a food-safety audit of its manufacturing facilities, and on that basis added fraud claims to its suit against Beyond Meat in March 2019.
The Beyond Meat securities class action lawsuit alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants failed to disclose that Beyond Meat’s termination of its supply agreement with Don Lee constituted a breach of that agreement, thus exposing Beyond Meat to foreseeable legal liability and reputational harm, and Beyond Meat and certain of its employees had doctored and/or omitted material information from a food safety consultant’s report, which Beyond Meat had represented as accurate to Don Lee. As a result of this information being withheld from the market, Beyond Meat securities traded at artificially inflated prices during the Class Period, with its stock price reaching a high of more than $230 per share.
On January 27, 2020, after the market closed, Don Lee announced that it was likely to obtain a judgment against Beyond Meat in its lawsuit. According to Don Lee, “[a] judge has ruled Don Lee . . . proved the probable validity of its claim that Beyond Meat breached its manufacturing agreement with Don Lee” and that in “a separate motion . . . the Court granted Don Lee[’s] request to name Beyond Meat[’s] [CFO and other senior officers] in its fraud claims which allege they intentionally doctored and omitted material information from a food safety consultant’s report . . . and affirmatively represented that it was the complete opinion of the consultant.” On this news, the price of Beyond Meat stock fell nearly 4%, or $4.63 per share, to close at $120.12 per share on January 28, 2020, causing substantial harm to investors.
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