Stoel Rives was a sponsor of this year’s GMA food litigation conference in Austin from February 22 to 25. The slide deck from Ken Odza‘s presentation on consumer fraud class claims can be viewed by clicking on the image to the left.

Some of the takeaways from my presentation and those by others at the conference include:

  • Assure Marketing Is in Sync with R&D (to Avoid Exposure from Consumer Fraud Class Claims) (Ken Odza, Paul Benson, Richard Fama)

    The point was underscored in several presentations that exposure on consumer fraud class claims often comes from unsupported marketing claims (health claims in particular). Marketing departments should make sure not only that claims are supported but that the supporting research is not contradicted by other credible internal or external research. 

  • Iqbal/Twombly Makes FRCP 12(b)(6) Motions More Attractive (Ken Odza, Richard Famas)

    The Supreme Court has overruled the Conley standard on Rule 8 notice pleading. "Plausibility" is the new pleading standard on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. If the operative allegations are not factually specific and the complained-of-conduct can be explained by another obvious reason, the complaint may be dismissed.

  • Class Certification in Consumer Fraud Cases Not Likely If Individualized Reliance/Causation Need to Be Proven (Ken Odza)

    A court should deny class certification in a consumer fraud case under the FRCP 23(b) "predominance" standard (1) when the proposed class includes multiple states with materially different statutes or (2) where the applicable state law requires an individualized showing of reliance/causation for each class member.

As technology improves and chemicals can be detected at lower and lower levels, regulators are looking at stricter standards and lower thresholds. EPA, for example, has a renewed emphasis on risk assessments that will inevitably affect food regulation.

  • FALCPA Does Not Apply to Restaurants, but "Allergen-Free" and "Gluten-Free" Claims Must Be Supported (Joseph Bottiglieri)
     
  • Pros and Cons Of MDLs (Paul LaScala)

Paul La Scala provided a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the pros and cons of Multi-District Litigation (MDL) from a defendant’s perspective.

  • FDA Recall Procedures Manual Is a Great Resource and Can Be Found Online (Tom Mazziotti)

The FDA’s regulatory procedures manual (or at least the chapters related to recalls) should be mandatory reading as part of any company’s recall preparedness program.

  • Class Actions and Mass Torts on the Rise Internationally with More Countries Passing Plaintiff-Friendly Laws (Greg Fowler)

American companies selling products abroad need to be aware of and prepared for litigation abroad with rules that are increasingly unfriendly to business.