Sep 28, 2012

“The Next Asbestos” – False Advertising and Mislabeling Class Action Lawsuits Against the Agriculture, Food and Beverage Industry

Plaintiffs' lawyers are always looking to identify “the next asbestos.”  This is the next wave of litigation that will allow them to file multiple cases, all over the country, against defendants with deep-pockets, so they can obtain large recoveries over a long period of time – just like they did in asbestos cases (and still do, at least in some jurisdictions).  It turned out that litigation against tobacco companies also fit this description.  Litigation against lead paint/pigment companies and silica companies did not.


The new litigation candidate that the plaintiffs’ bar appears to be focused on as “the next asbestos,” targets the nation’s major food and beverage manufacturers.  The defendants in these cases are names we are all familiar with:  General Mills, Heinz, ConAgra Foods, Nabisco, among others.  The cases advance the theory that these companies have mislabeled and falsely advertised their products.  Because these products are marketed to a vast consuming public, they are filed as class actions. For example, one such lawsuit involved a claim against a manufacturer of Greek yogurt for labeling the sugar in its product "evaporated cane juice." The plaintiffs' lawyers say that "evaporated cane juice" is the same thing as ordinary sugar and, thus, the product’s label is false and misleading. 

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