Perkins Coie is pleased to present its fourth annual Food Litigation Year in Review 2019, offering a summary of the past year’s key litigation outcomes, regulatory developments, and filing data. Using metrics from our proprietary database, developed by our food litigation team in order to track and understand trends in this area, 2019’s Year in Review again reports an increase in class action litigation, with a record-breaking 173 new lawsuits filed. The upward filing trends in the class action landscape are mirrored in other industries and in the prosecution of related claims: putative class actions against the pet food and dietary supplement industries were on the rise in 2019, as were Proposition 65 warning notices.

While the number of lawsuits challenging allegedly non-functional slack fill declined once again, new theories and claims, notably about particular food flavors, continue to drive new filings. The proliferation of pre-suit notices regarding Proposition 65 means that litigation in this area is likely to see further increases.

For attorneys defending the increasing number of class actions filed against food and beverage companies, 2019 saw a number of important rulings reaffirming the validity of strategies to defend such cases. These include important rulings from the Second and Ninth Circuits reflecting common-sense principles about the expectations of reasonable consumers regarding food labeling. Similarly, in the pet food area, just as courts have done in similar lawsuits against food companies, courts rejected the notion that a “natural” claim on pet food necessarily communicates that the food is completely free of trace pesticides down to the molecular level. Likewise, in the supplement space, courts have reaffirmed the vitality of preemption defenses to complaints challenging allegedly misleading structure/function claims.

Perkins Coie has been a leader in defending food litigation cases, securing favorable, precedent-setting results for its clients. The year 2019 was no different, with several important victories, including dismissals in both Yu v. Dr Pepper Snapple Group (N.D. Cal.) and Doss v. General Mills (S.D. Fla.), class actions challenging the presence of trace pesticides in food.

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Photo of David T. Biderman David T. Biderman

David Biderman, a partner in Perkins Coie’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, focuses his practice on mass tort litigation and consumer class actions. He heads the firm’s Mass Tort and Consumer Litigation group. He has represented a wide variety of companies in…

David Biderman, a partner in Perkins Coie’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, focuses his practice on mass tort litigation and consumer class actions. He heads the firm’s Mass Tort and Consumer Litigation group. He has represented a wide variety of companies in state and federal courts in California for 30 years.

On consumer class actions, David represents packaged food companies, coffee companies, dairy companies, footwear companies and others whose nutritional or health claims have been challenged. He also has represented search engines and other online companies. He has a record of favorable results for clients. He successfully tried a major consumer fraud class action on behalf of one of the world’s major search engines in a case involving online gambling advertisements. For that same client, he negotiated a favorable settlement of a class action challenging its online advertising pricing. He represented a major coffee retailer in defeating a class action on standing grounds. He also has litigated pre-emption defenses arising out of food labeling and obtained a dismissal for a client whose nutritional statements were challenged.

For fifteen years, David managed the firm’s full-service product liability team responsible for defending over 1,000 toxic tort cases pending in Los Angeles and Northern California state courts. These cases entailed ongoing trial activity at various levels for several trials set each month. The highly experienced and well-coordinated team has handled thousands of asbestos toxic tort cases for a variety of clients, including FORTUNE 500 companies from such industries as consumer products, aerospace manufacturing, household goods, dry cleaning and industries that generate electromagnetic fields, such as electric utilities and operators of wireless communications systems.

Photo of Charles Sipos Charles Sipos

Charles Sipos is a class action litigator with more than two decades of experience focusing on technology, consumer goods, and privacy issues.

He litigates class actions nationwide and has appeared and argued on behalf of defendants in federal courts, including in California, Colorado…

Charles Sipos is a class action litigator with more than two decades of experience focusing on technology, consumer goods, and privacy issues.

He litigates class actions nationwide and has appeared and argued on behalf of defendants in federal courts, including in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits. Charles’ litigation successes have included dismissals and summary judgment based on lack of Article III injury, statutory standing under consumer protection laws, federal preemption, primary jurisdiction, failure to allege damages, First Amendment protection for commercial speech, the “reasonable consumer” standard, and related defenses.

Photo of Tommy Tobin Tommy Tobin

Thomas Tobin’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and class action matters involving statutory, constitutional, and regulatory issues in a range of industries, including food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and cannabis. In the food and beverage sector, Tommy has experience defending false…

Thomas Tobin’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and class action matters involving statutory, constitutional, and regulatory issues in a range of industries, including food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and cannabis. In the food and beverage sector, Tommy has experience defending false advertising claims and consumer protection claims for well-known international corporations.

Photo of Jasmine Wetherell Jasmine Wetherell

Jasmine Wetherell advises consumer goods companies, with an emphasis on serving food, dietary supplement, cosmetics/personal care, and cannabis businesses. She maintains a civil litigation practice focusing on consumer class-action defense and is highly experienced in defending claims brought under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies…

Jasmine Wetherell advises consumer goods companies, with an emphasis on serving food, dietary supplement, cosmetics/personal care, and cannabis businesses. She maintains a civil litigation practice focusing on consumer class-action defense and is highly experienced in defending claims brought under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, and False Advertising Law.