Saturday, March 04, 2017

10 Ridiculous Recent Food-Marketing Lawsuits

Class-action lawsuits over food marketing practices have skyrocketed in the past decade, from around 20 at the federal level in 2008 to 118 such suits filed in 2015 and 171 last year. Yet far from signaling a wave of action in the consumer interest, these suits are often a sort of legal spam, mass-filed by attorneys and firms that specialize in the practice and collect significant fees for their work while plaintiffs might make out with a few product vouchers. And not only do they deal in frivolous issues far-removed from consumer safety or justice, they also threaten to drive up product prices and drive small companies out of business. According to ILR, a nonprofit research affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this "surge" of class action food-marketing litigation is largely driven by "a small cadre of class action lawyers" and a small number of U.S. law firms. "There are now hundreds of active food class actions in the federal courts and more in state courts," states ILR's new report, The Food Court: Trends in Food and Beverage Class Action Litigation. "A few are so laughable that courts have quickly thrown them out. Some are withdrawn or dismissed, typically as a result of a private settlement." But "many more are litigated for years," culminating in "multi-million dollar settlements that line the pockets of lawyers, but provide little or no benefit to consumers." Want an example? According to ILR's research, 50 class-action suits were filed in 2016 over Parmesan-cheese bottles labeled "100% grated Parmesan cheese" that also contain a small amount (2-4 percent) of cellulose, a natural, FDA-approved food-additive that keeps cheese from clumping and is listed on label Ingredient sections. Here are nine more complaints from ILR's catalogue of food-marketing cases gone wild:...more

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