Tag Archives Illinois

Binny's Beverage Depot faces a putative class action alleging the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by collecting and sharing employee biometric information without informed consent. Burger v. Gold Standard Enters., Inc., No. 2018CH05904 (Ill. Ch. Ct., Cook Cty., filed May 7, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that Binny's established a fingerprint-based time-clock program and shared the collected data with third-party payroll processors and data-storage vendors without providing its employees "informed written consent, and without informing them through a publicly available written policy of how it was going to store and dispose of this irreplaceable information," and "failed to maintain lawful data retention practices which reduce the risk of theft or other misappropriation of its workers' biometrics by unauthorized third parties." The risk was compounded, the complaint asserts, because the biometric data was linked to Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and "potentially other relevant financial information." Claiming violations of…

Panera Bread Co. faces a putative class action alleging that a data breach exposed the personal data of thousands of customers to hackers, increasing their risk of fraud and identity theft. Boykin v. Panera Bread Co., No. 18-2461 (N.D. Ill., filed April 5, 2018). The complaint alleges that the company failed to protect the personally identifiable information of Panera’s My Rewards card and My Panera app users, including names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates and verification codes, email addresses, telephone numbers and birth dates. In August 2017, a “white-hat hacker” apparently accessed the information and notified Panera about the potential security breach. Although Panera reportedly told the hacker it was developing a solution, the complaint alleges that the hacker “checked it every month or so” and ultimately contacted the publisher of Krebs on Security in 2018 to bring attention to the issue. The plaintiffs assert that in the…

A federal court in Illinois has denied summary judgment to both parties involved in a trademark dispute over the use of “pizza puffs,” finding that a reasonable jury could rule for either on the question of whether the term is generic. Illinois Tamale Co. v. El-Greg, Inc., No. 16-5387 (N.D. Ill., entered March 29, 2018). Illinois Tamale Co. alleges that El-Greg Inc.’s products infringe trademark and trade dress rights held since 1976. The court also refused Illinois Tamale’s motion for summary judgment on El-Greg’s fair-use defense, finding that a reasonable jury could find in favor of either party on each element of the defense.

An Illinois court has refused to dismiss Gold Medal Products Inc.'s lawsuit alleging that Bell Flavors and Fragrances Inc., with the help of a former Gold Medal employee, misappropriated trade secrets. Gold Medal Prods. Inc. v. Bell Flavors & Fragrances Inc., No. 17-4084 (N.D. Ill., entered March 2, 2018). Gold Medal alleged that its recipe and flavor profile for caramel Glaze Pop, a popcorn coating, are trade secrets, which the defendants allegedly misappropriated when the former employee helped Bell Flavors create a similar product for one of Gold Medal’s competitors. Denying Bell’s motion to dismiss, the court declined to establish whether Gold Medal could prove it owned trade secrets because the record was insufficient to support an analysis. The court rejected Bell’s argument that the recipe and flavor profile are not trade secrets because the ingredients are publicly listed and not patented by Gold Medal. Further, differences in the manufacturing…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Brew Dr. Kombucha misleadingly advertises its products as containing “billions” of probiotic bacteria. Bazer v. Brew Dr. Kombucha, No. 2018-2943 (Ill. Chancery Ct., Cook Cty., filed March 5, 2018). The plaintiff asserts that he bought several bottles of kombucha in different flavors because he heard about the benefits of the beverage and the probiotic bacteria it purportedly contains. According to the complaint, tests showed that the product contained about 50,000 bacterial colonies rather than the "billions" advertised on the bottle’s label. Claiming violations of consumer-protection laws, breach of warranties and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks class certification, disgorgement and attorney’s fees.

An Illinois federal court has dismissed without prejudice a putative slack-fill class action against chocolatier Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc., ruling the plaintiffs provided only “bare-bones” factual allegations and failed to allege a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that would allow their state law claims to avoid preemption. Benson v. Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc., No. 17-3519 (N.D. Ill., entered February 28, 2018). The court also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim for injunctive relief, finding they lacked standing because they failed to adequately allege a risk of future harm. “[A]lready aware of Fannie May’s alleged deceptive practices, Plaintiffs cannot claim they will be deceived again in the future," the court held. In addition to the products they did purchase—Fannie May’s Pixies and Mint Meltaways—the plaintiffs also alleged that packages of eight other chocolate candies contained slack fill and brought the action on behalf of consumers who purchased…

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit alleging Chicago Meat Authority Inc. discriminated against African-Americans, resulting in multiple violations of U.S. civil rights statutes. U.S. Equal Opportunity Emp’t Comm’n v. Chicago Meat Authority, Inc., No. 18-1357 (N.D. Ill., filed February 22, 2018). EEOC alleges that the processor (i) failed to recruit or hire African-Americans because of their race; (ii) engaged in hiring practices that caused a disparate impact on the basis of race; (iii) fired an employee based on his race and in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity; (iv) subjected African-Americans to a hostile work environment that included frequent racial epithets and slurs as well as other offensive comments based on race; and (v) failed to take action to remedy the alleged harassment. EEOC seeks injunctive relief, an order that the defendant provide equal employment opportunities regardless of race and protected activity, back pay, front…

An Illinois federal court has dismissed a franchisee’s lawsuit alleging KFC wrongfully prevented him from advertising halal chicken, finding the franchise contract gave KFC control over advertising and promotional material. Lokhandwala v. KFC Corp., No. 17-5394 (N.D. Ill., entered January 23, 2018). Although the plaintiff alleged that KFC's prohibition on advertising dietary claims contradicted the earlier representations KFC had made to him, the court found that the franchise agreement gave KFC express power to change its advertising policies. In particular, the contract stated that “[n]o failure, forbearance, neglect or delay of any kind or extent on the part of KFC in connection” with enforcing and exercising its rights “shall affect or diminish KFC’s right to strictly enforce . . . this Agreement at any time.” The court ruled that given the contract’s “unambiguous language on advertising” as well as its integration clause, it would not consider extrinsic evidence of KFC’s…

An Illinois federal court has dismissed part of a putative class action against Lenny & Larry's Inc., holding that the plaintiffs lack standing and that the application of 50 differing state laws is “unmanageable on a class-wide basis because those states’ laws conflict in material ways.” Cowen v. Lenny & Larry’s Inc., No. 17-1530 (N.D. Ill., entered October 12, 2017). The complaint alleged that Lenny & Larry’s advertises “The Complete Cookie” as “Plant-Based Protein to Build Lean Muscle,” labeling the cookies as vegan, non-GMO, kosher, dairy-free and soy-free without artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. The four-ounce cookie is advertised as containing 16 grams of protein, but the plaintiffs allege that independent testing showed the actual protein content of each cookie can vary from four to nine grams. The court held that the named plaintiffs could not establish they had sustained an injury from cookie flavors they had not purchased. “[T]he…

Chicago officials have voted to repeal a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax approved in November 2016 by the Cook County Board of Commissioners but delayed by a lawsuit arguing that the tax was unconstitutional. The tax took effect in August 2017 after a court dismissed the Illinois Retail Merchants Association's lawsuit. Retailers reportedly saw SSB sales decline 25 to 50 percent, while retailers with locations in surrounding counties not subject to the tax saw sales increase. In addition, the Chicago Tribune reported, "Internal polling for one Cook County commissioner showed more than 90 percent of constituents opposed the soda tax.” The repeal will take effect December 1, 2017. Other jurisdictions continue to experiment with SSB taxes. In April 2018, Ireland will begin taxing non-alcoholic, water- and juice-based drinks with an added sugar content of 5 grams or more per 100 milliliters. Pure fruit juices and dairy products will be exempt from the…

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