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USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

July 31, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed and Brandon Neuschafer

Yesterday, a D.C. Circuit decision came down upholding the country of origin labeling requirements (“COOL”). COOL is the law that requires retailers licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act to, among other things, label certain meat products with information regarding where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

In yesterday’s ruling, the Court took an expansive approach to the Zauderer standard and held that, at least in the context of meat labeling, the government can compel commercial speech for reasons beyond preventing deception.

Included in those reasons the court cited to were: “the context and long history of country-of-origin disclosures to enable consumers to choose American-made products; the demonstrated consumer interest in extending country-of-origin labeling to food products; and the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.”

Dissenting Judge Janice Rogers Brown criticized that the ruling means “a business owner no longer has a

“Ascertainability” and food labeling class actions in the 9th Cir.

July 30, 2014

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Defendants often raise ascertainability when opposing class certification in food, beverage, and personal care products labeling litigation. District courts in the Ninth Circuit, however, sometimes reach different conclusions regarding a putative class representative’s burden when it comes to establishing ascertainability. Indeed, the subject has led to divergent decisions in the Northern District of California (often called “the food court”), with judges in that district commenting on the intra-district split. Two recent decisions, however, bolster defendants’ arguments that ascertainability in contested class certification proceedings (as opposed to settlement classes) is a significant hurdle for such plaintiffs to overcome.

Martin v. Pacific Parking Systems Inc., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 14200 (9th Cir. July 25, 2014), didn’t address consumer product labeling, but it addressed ascertainability. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of class certification of claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act. While this is an unpublished decision and short on