Author Archives: Heather K. Zimmerman

How Much Is Too Much “Medical Evidence” To Ask For In A Personal Injury Action?

In the context of two lead paint exposure cases, the New York State Court of Appeals was recently called upon to delineate the plaintiffs’ obligations to substantiate their claims of injury during the course of discovery. In Giles v. Yi and Hamilton v. Miller, the Court struck a balance between plaintiffs’ obligations to support their claimed injuries with medical evidence and defendants’ interests in ferreting out medically unsupported or unsupportable claims at an early stage. In both cases the plaintiffs disclosed medical reports demonstrating that…

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Deceptive Discounting: Retail Sale Advertisements Under Fire

We see the advertisements all the time – huge signs in retail store windows announcing “40% Off Everything!” or “50% Off Your Purchase!” But we sometimes find out that “Everything” doesn’t always mean everything, and “Your Purchase” doesn’t always mean your entire purchase. Often these advertised great sales are subject to dozens of exclusions – specific items, categories of items, and even entire departments – but we sometimes do not find out about those exclusions until we hit the checkout line. Consumers are starting to…

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FDA Assistance in Meeting New Food Safety Guidelines

In a practical effort to help companies meet the requirements of the recent Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the “Operational Strategy for Implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)” strategy guide on May 2, 2014.  The guide provides an overview of the FDA’s changing role in food and feed safety assurance under the FSMA and then suggests operational guidelines for actual food and feed facilities in how to work within the FDA guidelines and implement the act.…

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Choose Your (Advertisement) Words Wisely: One Company’s Battle with the FTC Over Freedom of Speech in Advertising

Recent FTC target, Pom Wonderful, LLC, is forging ahead in a tough battle with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Courts over what it claims is an invasion of its freedom of speech in advertising. In 2013, the FTC slammed Pom for advertisements of its pomegranate juice that claimed the juice could benefit people suffering from certain medical conditions and diseases, such as heart disease and prostate cancer. The FTC decided Pom had not performed enough scientific research to back its claims, so it…

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Can A Company Prevent Litigation Through Forced Arbitration?

This intriguing question has recently cropped up in response to a bold effort on the part of corporate food giant, General Mills, to bind consumers to an arbitration agreement if the consumer, for example, downloaded a coupon from the company’s website, entered a company sweepstakes, or interacted with the company in certain other ways. On April 2, 2014, General Mills added new legal terms to its website which required consumer disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service…

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Are We Ready for New Nutritional Information Labels?

The FDA recently took its first step toward a facelift for the now ubiquitous nutritional information labels we see on food and drink every day. On February 27, 2014, the FDA proposed updates to the labels for all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products. The proposed changes would be the first update to nutritional information labels since 2006, when the labels were first required to include information on trans fats. These proposed changes aim to address rising concerns about diet-related health…

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New Hope for Asbestos Defendants in Preventing Fraud

For years, asbestos defendants have suspected plaintiffs have been withholding evidence about similar asbestos claims they filed against other companies, thereby maximizing settlements or verdicts against each individual company. Specifically, defense attorneys have worried that by disingenuously claiming they only have viable claims against a single company, plaintiffs were able to maximize their recovery from that company. In In Re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 156 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Jan. 10, 2014), a North Carolina bankruptcy case, the Court recently allowed perennial asbestos defendant,…

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What’s All the Uproar About Caramel Color?

Caramel color:  it sounds harmless – maybe even delicious – so why has it suddenly caused enough concern to draw Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attention? “Caramel color” is a common name for a type of artificial coloring regularly added to soft drinks and other foods to turn them brown. In fact, according to some studies and reports, caramel color is the single most used food coloring in the world. But some types of caramel color contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). In…

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U.S. Supreme Court Draws the Line on Where Corporations Can Be Sued in the U.S.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court made strides for large nationwide and worldwide companies, protecting reasonable limits on where those companies may be sued in the U.S. In Daimler AG v. Bauman, No. 11-965 (U.S. January 14, 2014), the court unanimously held California state courts did not have jurisdiction over the international Daimler corporation based on the heavy market contacts of one of its subsidiaries in that state. In the Daimler case, Argentinian citizens brought suit against the German Daimler corporation in California state court.…

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Beginnings of Success Using Federal Racketeering Statute to Combat Fraudulent Lawsuits

As this blog reported earlier this month, national freight and railroad company, CSX Transportation, recently succeeded in using the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to obtain triple damages from a Pennsylvania law firm that brought a slew of fraudulent asbestos lawsuits against it. Now, multinational energy corporation, Chevron, looks to follow on the heels of CSX’s success in an action against noted Manhattan plaintiffs’ attorney, Steven Donziger, for bringing an allegedly fraudulent environmental lawsuit against the company in Ecuador…

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