Tag Archives Florida

The Eleventh Circuit has reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit against Dunkin’ Donuts LLC, ruling that a blind plaintiff who alleged the company’s website was not compatible with screen-reading software showed a plausible claim for relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Haynes v. Dunkin’ Donuts LLC, No. 18-10373 (11th Cir., entered July 31, 2018). The Southern District of Florida previously dismissed the complaint, reasoning that the plaintiff had "failed to allege a nexus between the barriers to access that he faced on the website and his inability to access goods and services at Dunkin’ Donuts’ physical store." The appellate panel found that “the prohibition on discrimination is not limited to tangible barriers that disabled persons face but can extend to intangible barriers as well. ... It appears that the website is a service that facilitates the use of Dunkin’ Donuts’ shops, which are places of public accommodation. And…

Brinker International Inc. faces a putative class action alleging hackers stole customers' personally identifiable information (PII) from point-of-sale systems at Chili's Grill & Bar in April and May 2018. Steinmetz v. Brinker Int'l, Inc, No. 18-0981 (D. Nev., filed May 30, 2018). The plaintiff seeks damages, an injunction and attorney's fees for negligence and alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Nevada consumer-protection law. Wendy’s International LLC has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that a similar point-of-sale breach exposed customers’ PII at more than 1,000 locations nationwide. Jackson v. Wendy's Int'l LLC, No. 16-0210 (M.D. Fla., entered May 25. 2018). The lawsuit was previously dismissed, then an amended complaint proceeded. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. An Illinois federal court dismissed a putative class action without prejudice after the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed claims related to a data breach of Panera Bread Co.’s customer records because none…

A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was hospitalized after eating Salmonella-contaminated eggs from Rose Acre Farms Inc. Roberts v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 18-61082 (S.D. Fla., filed May 14, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she purchased eggs packaged by Coburn Farms, a Sav-A-Lot Food Stores brand, and became ill enough to require two hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked Rose Acre Farms eggs to a nine-state outbreak of Salmonella infections. Claiming strict product liability, breach of warranty, negligence and negligence per se, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.

The Florida attorney general has filed a lawsuit alleging Miami-based Icebox Cafe violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by advertising its food and beverage items as locally sourced and "farm-to-table" while the ingredients were purchased from traditional commercial vendors. Office of the Attorney Gen. v. Icebox Cafe LC, No. __ (Fla. Cir. Ct., Miami-Dade Cty., filed May 4, 2018). The state alleges that Icebox Cafe "represented that it purchased products from specific Florida farms and suppliers when such was not the case." According to the complaint, Icebox Cafe's invoices indicate that most of its ingredients were purchased from commercial distributors while its advertising stated that its food was made from products purchased from a local farm and a local seafood distributor. The cafe also allegedly represented that its menu items contained wild salmon and same-day-caught fish, but its invoices did not show purchases of those items. Claiming deceptive representation,…

Ruling that the jury instructions were misleading, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has reversed a jury verdict finding for a seafood restaurant in a lawsuit involving allegations of foodborne illness. Rhodes v. Lazy Flamingo 2 Inc., No. 17-11338 (M.D. Fla., entered March 29, 2018). The plaintiffs alleged negligence per se after one ate Lazy Flamingo's oysters, which were contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus and caused an illness requiring five days of hospitalization. A Florida regulation requires foodservice establishments serving raw oysters to display a health-risk warning on menus or table placards; the jury was instructed that it could consider the text of the regulation as well as a Florida foodservice industry bulletin indicating the warning “may be on menus, table placards, or elsewhere in plain view of all customers.” The appeals court found no evidence that the bulletin offered a "reasonable interpretation” of the regulation, reversed the verdict…

A Florida magistrate has recommended that a district court deny Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s motion for $1.5 million in attorney’s fees and costs after the company was granted summary judgment against claims that its advertising misled consumers into believing its food products only contained ingredients free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Reilly v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 15-23425 (S.D. Fla., report and recommendation filed January 26, 2018). Although Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUPTA) permits prevailing parties to recover costs and fees, the magistrate noted that the trial court has broad discretion to consider various factors, including: (i) the scope and history of the litigation; (ii) the ability of the non-prevailing party to satisfy an award; (iii) whether an award of fees would deter similar litigants; (iv) the merits of the respective positions; and (v) whether the claim was brought to resolve a significant legal issue. The…

The Eleventh Circuit has denied a petition for rehearing in a putative class action against Chipotle Mexican Grill alleging false advertising related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Reilly v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No, 16-17461 (11th Cir., entered November 14, 2017). The appeals court previously denied the plaintiff’s appeal from the trial court’s entry of summary judgment. The plaintiff alleged that she stopped eating Chipotle's chicken burritos after learning from the company website that although the meat and dairy products it uses are not genetically modified, “most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed.” She began eating at a different Mexican restaurant, where she paid more for a similar chicken burrito despite the restaurant not claiming its food was non-GMO. The district court ruled that the plaintiff…

After years of litigation over whether Florida should reimburse residents whose healthy citrus trees were cut down in an effort to eradicate citrus canker, the Florida Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Rick Scott's veto of $37.4 million appropriated by the state legislature that would have paid judgments to homeowners in two counties. Bogorff v. Scott, No. 17-1155 (Fla., order entered July 13, 2017). From 2000 to 2006, Florida attempted to eradicate citrus canker in the state, eventually chopping down more than 500,000 orange, grapefruit and key lime trees throughout the state located within 1,900 feet of an infected tree, even if the trees showed no signs of the disease. In May 2017, lawmakers budgeted funds to pay previous judgments awarded to homeowners in Lee and Broward counties, two of the five counties affected. Gov. Scott used a line-item veto to stop the budgeted payments; the Lee county plaintiffs then sought…

A complaint against the maker of Tabatchnick soups that alleged the company’s products could not be called “natural” because they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been voluntarily dismissed. Ramsaran v. Tabatchnick Fine Foods, Inc., No. 17-­60794 (S.D. Fla., dismissed June 9, 2017). The plaintiff had argued that he relied on the company’s “all natural” representations when he bought the company’s prepackaged soups but later learned that they contain GMO soy, corn or canola. Additional details appear in Issue 632 of this Update.   Issue 638

A Florida federal court has confirmed an arbitration tribunal's decision awarding $32 million to Del Monte International for Inversiones Y Procesadora Tropical Inprotsa's continued use of Del Monte pineapple seeds after the agreement permitting use had expired. Inversiones Y Procesadora Tropical Inprotsa v. Del Monte Int'l, No. 16­-24275 (S.D. Fla., order entered May 1, 2017). Inprotsa argued that although it had stipulated "that Del Monte owned the MD­2 pineapple variety," "it only stipulated to that fact because Del Monte had falsely represented that it owned the MD­2 variety in letters to Costa Rican growers." In response, Del Monte pointed out that the arbitral tribunal "specifically held that the parties' agreement was not procured by fraud." The court found that Inprotsa did not argue "that the two­-year arbitration process was fraudulent, that the arbitration tribunal acted fraudulently, or that the final award was procured by fraud." Rather, the company argued that…

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