Category: Litigation

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California Court Declines to Dismiss Food Label Class Action Despite Lack of Alleged Purchase Date

Food manufacturers received a setback earlier this week, when Judge Thelton Henderson of the Northern District of California ruled that where a consumer identifies a specific class period in which a defendant food manufacturer labeled its products in a deceptive manner, the consumer does not have to allege the specific date he or she purchased … Continue Reading

When to Call the Whole Thing Off

People who aren’t intellectual property lawyers often mix up trademark, copyright, patent and trade secret protection.  Each provides a different kind of protection for a different kind of property interest, and they generally don’t overlap.  There are also different protections awarded under federal and state (and sometimes foreign) law for different forms of intellectual property, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Creates New Food Labeling Battleground, plus GMO Labeling Primer

My colleague Anne Glazer recently co-authored an article with Connie Kirby of Northwest Food Processors Association titled “Summary of Regulatory Intersection between the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration over the Labeling and Advertising of Food Products: Implication for Genetically Engineered Foods.” Prepared for Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s Task Force on Genetically-Engineered Agriculture, … Continue Reading

Constitutionality of Vermont’s Recently Enacted GMO Labeling Law Challenged

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, June 12, 2014, in United States District Court for the District of Vermont, four national trade associations representing food producers and manufacturers sued the state of Vermont claiming that the state’s recently passed Act 120, which would require certain food containing ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops to be labeled … Continue Reading

New Wave of Prop 65 Notices Target Rice Industry

This week, Consumer Advocacy Group (CAG), a non-profit organization that files numerous Proposition 65 (Prop 65) lawsuits each year, issued notices of violation alleging that 15 companies violated California law by selling rice containing arsenic (and in some instances, lead) without a Prop 65 warning. The notices targeted a wide a range of companies, from small … Continue Reading

Alternative Product Labeling: Will “Simply” Changing Your Brand Protect Your Company From False Advertising Claims?

For the past few years, there has been a steady, if not increasing, stream of class action lawsuits filed against various food and beverage manufacturers and retailers alleging misbranding and false advertising due to the presence of “All Natural” claims. The companies sued in these cases range from major manufacturers and retailers to small private … Continue Reading

Plaintiffs Seek New Targets in “All Natural” Class Actions

Recently, there have been both positive and negative developments in California regarding "All Natural" consumer class action litigation. By way of background, these cases are typically brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code §17200), False Advertising Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500) and Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Civ. Code §1750) regarding … Continue Reading

Stoel Rives Attending the Women in Agribusiness Summit #womeninagri

Our firm is really excited to send a team of women food law lawyers to participate in the Women in Agribusiness Summit taking place in Minneapolis this year. We’re currently on day 2 of the program, with great presentations on the schedule from representatives of Land O’Lakes, General Mills, Dow AgroScience, Zoetis, Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta … Continue Reading

Joe Canada!

When innovation meets the law, the results are often surprising.  We in Seattle are confronting this as ride services like Lyft compete with a regulated taxi industry. Now consider Pirate Joe’s, a business located in the upscale Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver, B.C..  I will let them describe their business model in their own words: Pirate … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Orders FDA to Address “All Natural” Labeling on GMO Foods

Coauthored by Claire Mitchell and Thomas Woods: California federal courts now appear positioned to lead the way nationally on the issue of whether food products containing genetically modified ingredients, commonly referred to as “GMOs” can be labeled “All Natural.” Just last week a federal judge in Colorado stayed the case of Nicole Van Atta v. General … Continue Reading

Driving a Stake Into State Obesity Litigation

Everyone from the First Lady to the Mayor of New York to my own personal physician is on an anti-obesity campaign these days.  Michelle Obama generally operates by trying to instill healthy habits; my doctor simply says I will lose weight if I use more calories than I consume (which is why you’ll find my … Continue Reading

The Case That Makes You Go “Ewww”

A Washington Supreme Court decision, Bylsma v Burger King Corp., has decided that in Washington, under the Products Liability Act, an individual who claims damages for emotional distress in the absence of having actually consumed a product may bring a suit for damages. Other than proving "objective symptomology", the seller of that product will have no defense to the action.… Continue Reading

Battle Over Labeling Genetically Modified Food Continues

Our colleague Claire Mitchell recently published an article in Law360 that discusses a recent class action lawsuit filed against Pepperidge Farm, Inc. in Colorado on November 6, 2012. The complaint alleges that Pepperidge Farm misrepresented its Cheddar Goldfish crackers as “natural” when, in fact, they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The lawsuit is one of … Continue Reading

Pepperidge Farm Facing Potential Class Action Lawsuit Over All Natural Claims

Although California’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, better known as Proposition 37, failed earlier this month when put to a vote, food companies still remain vulnerable to attacks over the use of genetically engineered ingredients in their products. Specifically, it appears that marketing a food as “all natural” when it contains a genetically … Continue Reading

Beef Products, Inc. Files Defamation Suit Against ABC

Just yesterday, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), along with Technology, Inc. and Freezing Machines, Inc., collectively filed suit against ABC in Circuit Court in Union County, South Dakota claiming that ABC’s news coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB), or what became infamously known by the nickname “pink slime,” was defamatory and ultimately devastating for the … Continue Reading

Accident in Search of a Cause of Action: the Alaska Supreme Court Strikes Out

The Alaska Supreme Court has come down with a decision that appears to place any owner of premises, such as the fast-food restaurant in the case, at risk for any dumb thing a motorist who might claim to be patronizing the premises does on the way to the premises, even if illegal. The plaintiff need not be someone patronizing the restaurant, but just passing by on the way to other things. This is a bad decision, with a good dissent that shows why.… Continue Reading

Nationwide Beef Processor, AFA, to Sell All Assets in Bankruptcy

AFA Investment Inc., and its affiliates, including AFA Foods, American Foodservice Corporation, United Food Group, LLC, and American Fresh Foods (together “AFA”) have requested that the Bankruptcy Court overseeing their Chapter 11 cases approve procedures for a sale of all of their assets. The sale process was a condition required by AFA’s lenders to continue financing … Continue Reading

UCL Class Actions in California Expand Beyond “All Natural” Claims

The “All Natural” class action litigation in California has continued into 2012, as expected.  The claims in California are being filed under California’s consumer-friendly unfair competition law (or UCL), which is codified in sections 17200 and 17500 of the California Business & Professions Code, and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). Given the costs and … Continue Reading

Proposition 65 case involving 4-MEI in soda

For news on the first alleged Proposition 65 violation concerning 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI) in soda, see my blog posting in the environmental law blog.  4-MEI exists in some food and beverage products, including certain sodas, beers, soy sauces, breads, and coffees, among others.  http://www.californiaenvironmentallawblog.com/first-prop-65-notice-of-violation-issued-regarding-4-mei-in-soft-drinks/  … Continue Reading

“All Natural” Class Action Litigation in California: What’s in Store for 2012?

California litigators Tom Woods and Melissa Jones have prepared a Litigation Legal Alert on "All Natural" class action litigation in California and what to expect in 2012.  The Alert, which is linked above, provides background information regarding "All Natural" class action litigation in California.  It also discusses why the authors believe that class action litigation in this area … Continue Reading
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