Category: Preemption

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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

Strategies to Defeat Putative Class Claims Challenging Labeling and Marketing of Food Products

April 8, 2011 – Scott Rickman from Del Monte, Lara White from Adams and Reese, and I will be talking at the Defense Research Institute (DRI) food law break-out. This event is held in conjunction with the DRI annual product liability conference in New Orleans. Click here for the complete manuscript that we’ve prepared to … Continue Reading

Front of Package Labeling Claims Survive Motion to Dismiss

A recent decision held that Front of Package (”FOP”) labeling claims may not (yet) be subject to federal preemption. The decision in a putative class action, Chacanaca v. The Quaker Oats Company, involves what has become a common fact pattern: The FDA says an issue is complex and subject to industry guidance and possibly rule-making … Continue Reading

Aurora Dairy Organic Milk Case: Eighth Circuit Preempts Some Claims And Remands Others

As we reported some time ago, a class action suit was pending in the Eastern District of Missouri against Aurora Dairy, its organic certifier and certain retailers for violation of state consumer protection laws. The district court had dismissed the case on the grounds that all claims were preempted by the Organic Foods Production Act … Continue Reading

Denial of Insurance for Consumer Fraud/Lanham Act Claims: Blaming the Product, Not the Advertising?

UPDATE: For those interested in reviewing the Axis policy discussed in the motion, it can be linked here.  I’m often asked in my practice about the availability of insurance coverage for claims by consumers or competitors that products are deceptively labeled, marketed or advertised. Those interested in the topic should follow the litigation between Welch Foods, … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Approves California Ban on Slaughtering Nonambulatory Animals Against Preemption Challenge

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals may be the best-known lower court judge in the United States.  He has wide-ranging tastes and accomplishments.  Nearly every lawyer has a favorite Judge Kozinski quote, such as the opening line in Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc.:  "If this were a sci-fi melodrama, it might … Continue Reading

Difficult Week for the Food Industry (Good Week for the Plaintiffs’ Bar): HVP Salmonella and FDA Warning Letters

The week of March 1 saw a double whammy hit food manufacturers. I. Open Letter to Industry on Marketing Claims First, on March 3, FDA sent warning letters to 16 food manufacturers concerning their labeling practices. FDA also issued an Open Letter to Industry warning against certain practices. For example, FDA warned that: o Nutrient content claims … Continue Reading

Court’s Decision on CR 12(b)(6) Motion In Zupnik: FFDCA Preemption Under Further Attack and Twombly Ignored

We previously cited the motion to dismiss in Zupnik, et al. v. Tropicana Products, Inc. as an example of good pleading practice in a putative consumer fraud class case. United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer apparently disagreed with our assessment, this week issuing an order denying the motion. Tropicana’s lead argument was a failure of … Continue Reading

Preemption v. Plausibility: Will There Be More or Fewer Successful Consumer Fraud Suits?

Products Liability Law360 ran a piece this week entitled “Suits Over Deceptive Food Marketing Likely To Increase” (unfortunately, this is a subscription-only site) authored by Liz McKenzie. The article discusses rightly how increased FDA enforcement action may lead plaintiffs attorneys to file “piggy-back” putative class actions. For example, it took just 13 days following the … Continue Reading

Snapple Decision – FDA’s Policy Concerning Use of “Natural” Not Entitled to Preemptive Effect

High Fructose Corn Syrup Labeling: Opening the Floodgates For Consumer HFCS Claims? The Third Circuit ruled this week in Holk v. Snapple Beverage Corp., reversing the district court and reinstating the state law putative class claims for consumer fraud and breach of warranty for use of the term “all natural” despite the inclusion of high … Continue Reading

HFCS Labeling Case: Opening The Floodgates For New Consumer Claims?

The Third Circuit may be close to opening the floodgates of claims against food and beverage manufacturers who use high-fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”) in products labeled “all natural.” Shannon Duffy at the Legal Intelligencer reported recently on a “lively hour-long” oral argument in the Third Circuit about reversing a District Court’s dismissal of state consumer claims against … Continue Reading

Trademarking Green/Eco-Friendly Food – What You Need To Know

By Guest Blogger Jere Webb It is evident that virtually every business now is trying to position itself as being “green”. For a discussion of restrictions on “green advertising”, particularly the FTC’s green ad guidelines (the “Green Guides”), and similar efforts at the state level, see “Green Claims Advertising – What You Can Say and … Continue Reading

Court Rules That Retailers Have No Duty to Investigate Suppliers Compliance with Organic Regulations

An important ruling was issued last week dismissing claims that milk produced by an organically certified dairy and labeled as organic was not really organic. Plaintiffs in the action asserted violations of various states’ laws because they claimed that they paid more for the milk because it was labeled as "organic.” A federal judge in … Continue Reading

California Appeals Court: No Mercury Warnings Required on Canned Tuna

The California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District has upheld a trial court ruling that canned tuna sold in California need not warn consumers about methylmercury.   In 2004, the State of California sued three tuna companies: Tri-Union Seafoods, LLC; Del Monte Corporation; and Bumble Bee Foods, LLC. The state argued, among other things, … Continue Reading

Another High-Profile California Labeling Case

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently filed a putative class action in federal court in the Northern District of California claiming that Glacéau’s VitaminWater is mislabeled under California law. This suit comes on the heels of the recent Ninth Circuit decision that remanded the Gerber foods case. We previously discussed the Gerber … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Asked to Hear Preemption Case Involving Methylmercury; FDA Issues Draft Documents Regarding Consuming Commercial Fish

By Guest Blogger Bryan Anderson The maker of Chicken of the Sea products has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in a case we reported on involving preemption of state-law tort claims. In August 2008, the Third Circuit in Fellner v. Tri-Union Seafoods, LLC reversed the district court and held that Food and … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari on Salmon Labeling Case

UPDATE to previous blog entries about the California salmon labeling case (Albertsons v. Kanter) – Just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.  The Supreme Court’s ruling followed briefing submitted by the Solicitor General (aka Bush Administration). The Bush Administration  argued in support of the California Supreme Court’s  opinion that claims under state law for alleged mislabeling of salmon are not preempted by federal … Continue Reading

When Is Labeling Misleading and Actionable Under State Law? Is There Any Clearly Understood Standard?

A recent Ninth Circuit case again raises serious questions as to whether there are any clearly defined legal standards as to when a food label is misleading and when it’s not. Manufacturers who are in compliance with federal standards for labeling may still be liable under state law. In Williams v. Gerber, the Ninth Circuit, … Continue Reading

The Latest On The Battle Over Federal Preemption of State Salmon Labeling Claims. . .

  The Supreme Court signaled last fall it may review a California Supreme Court decision finding that federal law does not preempt claims for violations of state consumer protection laws concerning “selling artificially colored farmed salmon without disclosing to . . . customers the use of color additive.” It invited the justice department to comment … Continue Reading

Salmon Labeling Probably Headed to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court  signaled last week that it may review a California Supreme Court decision finding that federal law does not preempt claims for violations of state consumer protection laws concerning “selling artificially colored farmed salmon without disclosing to . . . customers the use of color additive.” Following a petition for certiorari filed … Continue Reading

California Menu Labeling Laws–Restaurants Beware of Asking What Your Customer Wants!

Yesterday, California became the first state in the Union to write into law menu labeling requirements. Like municipal ordinances recently enacted in New York City and Seattle, the California law requires certain “chain” restaurants to disclose nutritional information and calorie content information for certain items. The law, to be phased in between 2009 and 2011, applies … Continue Reading

Tuna’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore – Third Circuit Refuses FDA’s Pleas for Federal Preemption

By Guest Blogger Amena Jefferson (Stoel Rives Summer Associate and UW law student) Federal preemption is on the table once again. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently decided Fellner v. Tri-Union Seafoods, No. 07-1238, 2008 WL 3842925 (3d Cir. Aug. 19, 2008). In this case, the plaintiff allegedly fell ill from mercury … Continue Reading

King County Menu Labeling Goes into Effect August 1, 2008–Yet Another Call for Preemption?

Effective August 1, King County, Washington, will impose the strictest menu labeling law in the nation. King County’s law imposes menu labeling requirements, on restaurant chains that have the following characteristics: 1. The same name. 2. Operating permits from Public Health—Seattle and King County. 3. Fifteen or more locations in King County or nationwide—this legislation does … Continue Reading
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