Author Archives: Leah A. Brndjar

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Update – Ninth Circuit Rules on Local Efforts to Block GMOs

Last year, we followed the story of ballot efforts on a local level to preclude GMO crops from being grown in certain counties in Hawaii. The ballot initiatives, which banned GMO crops within the borders of the counties, passed by narrow margins, but were immediately struck down in court after a challenge from various agricultural companies. Local organizations filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, seeking to overturn the District Court decision stating that the ballot initiatives were preempted by federal and state laws. The…

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The Surge of “TCCWNA” Class Actions in New Jersey

Until recently, the New Jersey Truth-In-Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA or the Act) was a relatively obscure consumer protection statute that sat dormant on New Jersey’s books for almost three decades. That all changed when a series of cases opened the floodgates to consumer class action litigation. In April, the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute issued a staggering prediction that the wave of TCCWNA lawsuits against retailers and other defendants could double in size over the next two years. Building Up TCCWNA The…

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Federal Legislation to Label GMOs Moves Through Senate

Back in June, a new Senate bill was proposed which would require food manufacturers to label products which contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As of last week, the bill has cleared the first hurdle and will be debated with a limit of 30 hours on the floor, and voted on as early as this week. For those in the food industry, there has long been wind of such an effort being made at the federal level, but until recently, none held any strength. But, with…

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Company Tackles Food Labeling Limitations Proactively, But Loses

Typically, in the “Food Law” world, we see the FDA, state agencies, and consumer activists targeting food manufacturing companies through lawsuits alleging false or misleading labeling, hidden ingredients, and contaminated products which allegedly cause various degrees of harm to consumers. Recently in Florida, a dairy creamery took another approach — and sued the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, among others, to dispute limitations on labeling certain of its dairy products in a way that the company deemed disingenuous to its consumer. The Ocheesee Creamery sells itself…

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A Novel Defense: The Truth

Tetley USA, Inc. is currently defending a false-labeling lawsuit in the Northern District of California (De Keczer v. Tetley USA, Inc., Docket No. 5:12-cv-02409-EJD), filed several years ago on the premise that the plaintiff was deceived by the label saying that the teas provided antioxidants that were good for his health. From the beginning, the plaintiff (and proposed class action) fell short in asserting valid claims, and in a showing of utmost patience from the court, the complaint has been dismissed and amended…

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No GMO.

Update — Local Governments Can’t Stop GMOs

In July, we wrote about a ballot initiative that banned GMOs in Maui County, Hawaii, which passed by a slim margin of 51 percent. It was challenged immediately in Federal Court by a collaboration of agricultural companies, and the law was struck down. The same issue is now a matter of appeal (login credentials required) before the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The backers of the initiative are seeking to overturn the District Court decision that stated the law was preempted by various…

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Gym Class Dismissed: Monthly Gym Memberships Not Governed by TILA

As anyone who has ever seen laundry draped on an unused treadmill can attest, there is a big difference between investing in exercise equipment and investing the time to actually use the equipment. The same holds true for gym memberships. Not surprisingly,  there are many people who join gyms with the best intentions to exercise regularly who then later regret signing a long term contract to belong to a gym they no longer use. Also, not surprisingly, most states have some sort of consumer protection…

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No GMO.

Local Governments Can’t Stop GMOs

In the November election cycle last year, the voters of Maui County, Hawaii passed an initiative that banned most genetically engineered food and plant products from being grown within the county’s borders.  The measure passed by a slim 51% majority, and immediately faced legal action by agricultural companies seeking to enjoin the county from enforcing the ordinance.  Simultaneously, some county residents filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was valid and needed to be certified and implemented. Last week, the United States…

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GMOs – the Battle Continues between EU and US

The European Union has decided that individual countries can make decisions regarding the use of GMOs within their own borders, separate and distinct from decisions made by the parliament on behalf of all 28 member countries. The agreement was drafted to allow governments to block the cultivation of certain GMOs in their countries, even if the EU parliament has already approved them. Generally speaking, the Europeans have held a much stricter stance on GMOs than those in the United States.  In fact, most of the…

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Food Technology: Charting Unknown Territories

The ever-changing industry of food products is one that is hard to keep up with. Much like electronics, or cars, or even toys, the industry is consistently innovating and creating new technologies and applying them to the food that we eat. Engineering our food products is not new – it has been around for decades on a large scale. In previous posts on this blog, we have addressed some of the legal implications of genetically modified foods and labeling claims related to organic or all-natural…

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