Lawyers From Suits Against Big Tobacco Target Food Makers
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: August 28th, 2012
Don Barrett, a Mississippi lawyer, took in hundreds of millions of dollars a decade ago after suing Big Tobacco and winning record settlements from R. J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and other cigarette makers. So did Walter Umphrey, Dewitt M. Lovelace and Stuart and Carol Nelkin. More than a dozen lawyers who took on the tobacco companies have filed 25 cases against industry players like ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo, Heinz, General Mills and Chobani. The suits, filed over the last four months, assert that food makers are misleading consumers and violating federal regulations by wrongly labeling products and ingredients. "[Mislabeling of a product is] a crime - and that makes it a crime to sell it," said Mr. Barrett. "That means these products should be taken off the shelves." Mr. Barrett said his group could seek damages amounting to four years of sales of mislabeled products - which could total many billions of dollars. In recent weeks, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued General Mills and McNeil Nutritionals over their claims on Nature Valley and Splenda Essentials products, and warned Welch's it would sue unless the company changed the wording on its juice and fruit snacks. The Federal Trade Commission won settlements from companies like Dannon and Pom Wonderful for claims about their products' health benefits. And PepsiCo and Coca-Cola face lawsuits over claims that their orange juice products are "100% natural."
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