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"Humanely Raised" Label Deceptively Connected to USDA, argues Class Action

Does "Humanely Raised" placed near "USDA Process Certified" imply that the USDA certified "Humanely Raised"?

Yes, plausibly so, held a federal judge in New Jersey in the class action, Hemy v. Perdue Farms, Inc. (2013). The court found it reasonable to connect the two label claims on a chicken product. The court denied Perdue's motion to dismiss. The two claims, taken together, were sufficient to state a claim for a breach of an express warranty. The high-burden fraud claim survived as well. The court permitted use of an internet survey to plausibly support the claim that consumers believed that Perdue was making promises as to its slaughtering process as well.

The class plaintiffs also produced alleged admissions by Perdue (letter, email, and checklist) that supported their argument that Perdue mirrors the inhumane practices of the National Chicken Council. If true, that practice would contradict the beliefs and reasonable interpretations of the plaintiffs as reasonable consumers. Worth noting here is that an advertisement may create an express warranty, which in this case was the warranty that the chickens used were "humanely raised" from birth through slaughter. 

Federal Preemption will take center stage in animal-welfare labeling litigation

Our next blog discusses the evolution of preemption doctrine in meat labeling. At issue are states' rights to preserve its powers, and its citizens' powers, to also prosecute claims for misbranding and false advertising.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court of the land, and will always be consulted first. Next are federal appellate courts. Then federal trial courts. State trial courts also contend with animal-based false advertising cases. After all, in large part of what we do is bring false-advertising lawsuits in New York State under New York state laws.

It's only when cases are either a) brought as class actions or b) otherwise qualify for federal jurisdiction, do they end up in federal court.

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