The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has denied a request that five false advertising lawsuits pending in two federal district courts against The Quaker Oats Co. be consolidated for pretrial proceedings in Illinois. In re: Quaker Oats Trans-Fat Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2230 (J.P.M.L., decided April 8, 2011). The putative class actions involve claims that the company advertises its Chewy Bars® as containing “0 grams trans fat” when they purportedly contain “dangerous amounts of artificial trans fat, a toxic product that causes cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and is banned in an increasing number of United States and foreign jurisdictions.”

The JPML apparently determined that centralization would not “serve the
convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient
conduct of this litigation.” The panel noted that four of the pending actions
were filed in one district court in California and were already underway. Given
that one company is the sole defendant “and one law firm represents at least
one plaintiff in three of the four Northern District of California actions,” the
JPML opined that the parties would be able “to cooperate and minimize the
possibilities of duplicative discovery and inconsistent pretrial rulings between
the four Northern District of California actions and the sole outlying Northern
District of Illinois action.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.