In its review * – which the law firm conducts every year – Perkins Coie documented 325 class action lawsuits filed against food and beverage companies in 2021, compared with 221 suits in 2020, and 179 suits in 2019.

Plaintiffs’ counsel continued to stalk and scrutinize the labels of CPG products for potential lawsuits, with 2021 once again setting record numbers for industry filings. ”

Two key factors behind the sharp uptick in cases in 2021 were the prolific filings of ‘vanilla vigilante’ plaintiff’s attorney Spencer Sheehan (“whose cases continued to be dismissed at a steady pace by federal courts nationwide ”)And the tsunami of casesFiled in the wake of a Congressional Subcommittee reportAlleging ‘dangerously high’ levels of heavy metals in products from leading baby food brands, said the law firm.

However, there was still a steady stream of cases covering familiar territory, from natural claims to slack fill(Empty space in a package that serves no clear function).

Lawsuits over ESG claims ‘skyrocketed’ in 2020 and 2021

One area attorneys at Perkins Coie are monitoring especially closely is litigation related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) claims, lawsuits that challenge a company’s sustainability or environmental practices, they explained.

“As recently as 2017, this area would have been fairly characterized as a ‘test case’ area, with only three relevant filings that year. In the period between 2020 and 2021, however, that number has skyrocketed with 60+ filings over that two-year period. “


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