Our notable ruling roundup aims to keep our readers up to date on recent rulings in the food & consumer packaged goods space.

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In Re Plum Baby Food Litigation, No. 4:21-CV-00913-YGR (N.D. Cal. – March 28, 2024):  The Northern District of California granted summary judgment in an action challenging defendant’s baby food products regarding allegedly undisclosed heavy metals. Applying Ninth Circuit law, the Court concluded that plaintiffs had not established that the allegedly undisclosed heavy metals constituted an unreasonable safety hazard or affected the product’s central function. The Court further reasoned that the theory that regular consumption of the baby food products over a period of time could lead to potentially dangerous accumulations of these substances was “conjectural.” In addition, the Court determined that the non-disclosure of trace heavy metals on the products’ labels did not violate the consumer protection laws of California, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, or Pennsylvania, as Plum had no such duty under of the laws of those states given their failures of proof. Among other things, the court noted (i) since 2017 the company had disclosed on its own website that the products may contain heavy metals and (ii) the topic of heavy metals in baby foods has received widespread media attention. The Court also concluded that plaintiffs had failed to allege that the products were not fit for consumption, writing “no reasonable jury could determine that the presence of heavy metals and perchlorate renders the product incapable of nourishment.” Order can be viewed here. Note: Perkins Coie LLP represented Plum, PBC.

In Re: Recalled Abbott Infant Formula Products Liability Litigation, No. 23-2525  (7th Cir. – April 2, 2024): The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s dismissal of a putative class action involving the voluntary recall of defendant’s powdered infant formula due to unsanitary conditions at one of their facilities. The appeal focused on the issue of standing, specifically whether the plaintiffs suffered an “injury in fact.” The Court concluded that the plaintiffs’ alleged injury was hypothetical or conjectural, and that they did not shown that the products they purchased were actually contaminated. Opinion can be viewed here.

If you are a food or CPG company contact interested in receiving our daily email update on filings and notable rulings, please reach out to Kellie Hale with your request to be added: khale@perkinscoie.com.

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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 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.