Tag Archives Pennsylvania

A group of consumers has filed a putative class action alleging the Healthy Beverage Co. LLC misleadingly labels its products as "lightly sweetened" because the product contains 20 grams of added sugar, or 40% of the recommended daily intake. Pierre v. Healthy Beverage Co. LLC, NO. 20-4934 (E.D. Penn., filed October 6, 2020). The complaint cites a letter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleging the company's representations of its products as "lightly sweetened" are misleading as well as the definition of "lightly" as it appears in a Merriam-Webster dictionary. The plaintiffs allege one cause of action, unjust enrichment, on behalf of a proposed nationwide class.

A group of workers at a Maid-Rite Specialty Foods production plant has filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require Maid-Rite to establish procedures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Does v. Scalia, No. 20-1260 (M.D. Penn., filed July 22, 2020). The plaintiffs allege that they face "imminent dangers posed by a workplace that has failed to take the most basic precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19." The complaint asserts that Maid-Rite is "failing to provide cloth face coverings, configuring the production line in such a way that workers cannot social distance, failing to arrange for social distancing in other areas of the plant, failing to provide adequate handwashing opportunities, creating incentives for workers to attend work sick, failing to inform workers of potential exposures to COVID-19, and rotating-in workers from other facilities in a way that increases the risk…

The estate of a meatpacking plant employee who died from a COVID-19 infection has sued JBS S.A. for negligence, wrongful death, misrepresentation and survival, alleging that the man’s death "was the predictable and preventable result of the JBS Defendants’ decisions to ignore worker safety.” Benjamin v. JBS S.A., No. 200500370 (Pa. C.P., Phila. Cty., filed May 7, 2020). According to the complaint, JBS increased production in March 2020 to meet increased demand for meat as shelter-in-place orders began to take effect across the United States. The estate argues that JBS “failed to provide sufficient personal protective equipment,” “forced workers to work in close proximity,” “forced workers to use cramped and crowded work areas, break areas, restrooms, and hallways,” “discouraged workers from taking sick leave in a manner that had sick workers in fear of losing their jobs,” and “failed to properly provide testing and monitoring for individuals who may have…

A consumer has filed a putative class action arguing that Dutch Gold Honey Inc. sells honey that lacks the antioxidants for which consumers purchase buckwheat honey, allegedly amounting to fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. Wolfe v. Dutch Gold Honey Inc., No. 19-4562 (E.D. Penn., filed October 1, 2019). “Unknown to Plaintiff and the Class, the Buckwheat Honey sold by Dutch Gold does not contain the antioxidants that consumers prize in buckwheat honey,” the plaintiff asserts. “Moreover, because Dutch Gold buys honey that has been harvested prematurely, Dutch Gold (or the sources it purchases honey from) must dry the honey out, so it heats its Buckwheat Honey to high temperatures for a long enough time that the antioxidants normally found in buckwheat honey are destroyed.” The plaintiff challenges in particular a statement from Dutch Gold’s website asserting that its buckwheat honey “has been demonstrated to have higher levels of antioxidants than…

H.J. Heinz Co. has filed a trademark infringement suit alleging Real Good Food Co. created and sold frozen appetizers described as "Poppers," which Heinz argues it owns the rights to for "frozen appetizers consisting primarily of vegetables, pork and/or cheese, not including shrimp." H.J. Heinz Co. Brands LLC v. Real Good Food Co., No. 19-0915 (W.D. Penn., filed July 26, 2019). Heinz further argues that Real Good Food Co. had actual knowledge of Heinz's rights to the Poppers mark because Real Good Food Co.'s website compares its products to Heinz's TGI Friday's-branded appetizers. Heinz alleges federal trademark counterfeiting, infringement, dilution and unfair competition and seeks injunctive relief, damages and destruction of infringing materials.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling upholding Philadelphia’s tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), holding that the tax is not preempted by state law. Williams v. Philadelphia, Nos. 2 EAP 2018, 3 EAP 2018 (Pa., entered July 18, 2018). The 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax, which took effect in January 2017, applies to SSB distributors rather than buyers and thus does not duplicate consumer sales tax, the court held.

A Maryland dairy has filed a First Amendment lawsuit challenging a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation requiring skim milk without vitamins A and D added to be labeled “imitation." S. Mountain Creamery, LLC v. FDA, No. 18-0738 (M.D. Pa., filed April 4, 2018). According to the complaint, South Mountain Creamery cannot selling its “all-natural, additive-free, pasteurized skim milk” in Pennsylvania because of FDA regulations mandating that skim milk sold in interstate commerce must contain the added vitamins. The creamery asserts that the fat-soluble vitamins dissipate before skim milk reaches the consumer, and FDA’s “own official materials discuss this issue.” According to the complaint, “The effect of the relevant regulations and laws is that any product consisting entirely of skim milk can never be labeled as ‘skim milk’ . . . [it] must be labeled as ‘imitation.’” The dairy alleges that the FDA definition misleads and confuses the public and that…

A jury in Pennsylvania federal court has awarded $200,000 to a former Mondelez employee who alleged the company discriminated against her because of her age and terminated her after she complained of the alleged discrimination. Konsavage v. Mondelez Global LLC, No. 15-1155 (M.D. Pa., verdict issued March 19, 2018). The plaintiff, who worked for Nabisco and its successor Mondelez for 31 years, reportedly said that beginning in 2013 a new supervisor told her that she should reduce her workload to give younger employees a chance, that she lacked agility and that she had no potential at her age. The following year, she was allegedly demoted and forced to take a $9,000 pay cut before being fired a few months later. The jury awarded her emotional distress damages pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The Ninth Circuit has granted an en banc rehearing of its September 2017 decision to block a San Francisco ordinance requiring health warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on the grounds that it unduly burdened and chilled speech protected by the First Amendment. Am. Beverage Ass’n. v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, No. 16-16072 (9th Cir., entered January 29, 2018). The September ruling overturned a 2016 district court decision determining that the city’s interest in public health and safety was a reasonable basis to enforce the ordinance, which required black-box warning labels on all advertising for SSBs that could take up as much as 20 percent of the advertising space. In addition, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to Philadelphia’s SSB tax that claims the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax violates state law; the challengers allege that because the tax is levied on distributors and ultimately borne by…

A former employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging Five Guys Operations paid female employees less than similarly situated male employees, echoing a similar lawsuit she filed in 2016. Finefrock v. Five Guys Operations, LLC, No. 17-2214 (M.D. Pa., filed December 1, 2017). The plaintiff asserts that after she and two other female general managers confronted executives about the alleged pay disparity, she was placed on a performance improvement plan and later fired. Alleging violations of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the plaintiffs seek class certification, damages, back and front pay and attorney’s fees.

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