Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms: The Detective Standard Fails

In a short but substantive opinion issued in December 2018, Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California slapped down an attempt by Sanderson Farms, Inc. to dismiss claims brought by two non-profit organizations, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Food Safety, regarding Sanderson Farms’ misleading “100% Natural” advertising of their chicken products. Friends of the Earth, et al. v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., No. 17-cv-03592-RS (N.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2018) (slip op. available here). In a scant eleven pages, the court methodically dismantled each of Sanderson Farms’ arguments—which mainly focused on the notion that the company’s website provided context to the company’s “100% Natural” slogan, rendering it not deceptive or misleading—and sustained the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint in its entirety. This case offers a roadmap for plaintiffs seeking to defeat the kind of tactics deployed by…

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