Whether to label foods as either containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) or being GMO-free is getting more complicated. On the one hand, Vermont’s GMO-labeling law, which has thus far survived legal challenge, will require by next July that all foods for sale at retail in the state bear labeling regarding GMO content. On the other hand, many retailers and food producers seeking to capitalize on consumer perceptions that GMO-free foods are healthier, have voluntarily adopted GMO-free labels. No matter if such labeling is voluntary or compelled, the seller faces difficult evidentiary burdens in trying to substantiate GMO label claims. Let’s say it can be proved that GMO ingredients are not contained in a finished food item. How far up the production chain must one go in order to ensure GMOs were not otherwise involved in the process?

Last week, the popular restaurant chain Chipotle was sued in a proposed class action over its GMO-free claims. Chipotle has prominently made serving GMO-free food, and small farming in general, a centerpiece of its marketing. Its anti-GMO marketing stance has
Continue Reading Here Come the GMO-Free Class Actions

In January 2014, a blind patron sued Lucky Brand Jeans for discrimination when he was not able to use Lucky Brand’s point-of-sale (“POS”) device to independently complete a debit purchase because the visual touch screen on the POS was not discernible to blind individuals. The plaintiff filed a class action under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Recently, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a Statement of Interest in this case in response to two arguments advanced by Lucky Brand in a motion to dismiss.

Lucky Brand argued that: (1) there is no requirement within the ADA and its regulations mandating that the POS devices have the capabilities requested by the plaintiff; and (2) since blind customers can purchase items by using cash, credit, or by processing their debit card as a credit card, there was no discrimination under the ADA merely because the plaintiff could not use the POS device to use his debit card as a debit card.

Continue Reading DOJ’s Recently Articulated Position on the Accessibility of Point-of-Sales Devices

This year, the United States Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a retailer can protect itself against class action lawsuits by including a single claim arbitration provision in its contracts with customers.

At issue before the United States Supreme Court is the case of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. The question to be decided is whether a retailer can enforce a provision in its contracts with customers that states all disputes will be handled through single-party arbitration, as opposed to class action litigation. This decision is particulary relevant to retailers that commonly use customer agreements to sell products and services, such as banks, fitness clubs, car rental companies, and Internet companies.

Continue Reading Supreme Court To Decide Whether Retailers Can Require Individual Arbitration of Customer Claims