California’s Cage-Free Eggs Law Faces Supreme Court Challenge By Other States

by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Contact

Briefing is now complete in a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen states asking the United States Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold within the state to come from chickens that have sufficient space to stretch out in their cages.

In the lawsuit, filed directly with the high court in December, Missouri, Iowa and 11 other states allege that “California has single-handedly increased the costs of egg production nationwide by hundreds of millions of dollars each year” due to its stringent regulations prohibiting confinement of egg-laying hens. The complaint contends that California’s requirements violate the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. The lawsuit also alleges that California’s regulations are preempted by the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), a federal law requiring uniformity of labeling, standards, and other provisions allowing for free movement of eggs and egg products in interstate commerce. To support their claims, plaintiffs rely on a study from an economist concluding that the price of a dozen eggs has increased nationwide between 1.8 percent and 5.1 percent since January 2015 due to California’s requirements.

The controversy arises out of California’s Proposition 2, a 2008 ballot measure that requires the state’s farmers give each egg-laying hen at least 116 square inches of space. Proposition 2 specifically forbids a person in California “from tether[ing] or confin[ing]” certain animals, including egg-laying hens, on a farm, “for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from: (a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and (b) Turning around freely.” The measure passed with nearly two-thirds of the vote. Though referenced colloquially as the “cage-free egg law,” the measure does not specifically prohibit the confinement of egg-laying hens in cages. Farmers may satisfy its requirements simply by reducing the number of chickens in each cage.

In 2010, California legislators expanded the law to require that all eggs sold in California comply with Proposition 2, not just those produced in the state.

These provisions, which became effective in 2015, were met with immediate challenge both within and outside California.

First, several California egg farmers brought suit alleging that Proposition 2 is unconstitutionally vague. These challenges ultimately did not succeed.

Then, in 2014, the state of Missouri and five others challenged the law in federal district court. The district court dismissed the case on standing grounds, ruling that the states failed to show that the law would harm their citizens, instead of a mere potential for future damages to some egg producers. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal in 2016, leading the other states to pursue an unsuccessful petition for certiorari in 2017.

In addition to facing constitutional scrutiny, California’s egg regulations have sparked litigation against retailers. Last month, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued Trader Joe’s in California state court, claiming the grocery chain has been deceptive in the labeling of its eggs. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of a consumer, contends that Trader Joe’s falsely advertises its eggs with images suggesting that the “hens who lay its private label, cage-free eggs are free to roam outdoors, under the sun and in green pastures.” Instead, according to the lawsuit, the cage-free eggs actually come from industrial hen houses, where chickens do not have access to the outdoors. The case is pending in Alameda County and Trader Joe’s has not yet filed a response.

Earlier this year, a class-action lawsuit filed in California federal court alleged that a large retailer deceived shoppers by describing eggs as coming from chickens “free to roam, nest and perch in a protected barn with outdoor access” when the hens were actually kept indoors.

Animal rights advocates in California are seeking to add another ballot measure in November 2018 that would proscribe even more explicit requirements for cage-free eggs. The new initiative would set the standard at 144 square inches per bird — one square foot — which is the level at which a hen is considered by animal activists to be “cage-free.” By 2022, the chickens and other farm animals would be fully cage-free, and be allowed to roam freely inside barns.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Contact
more
less

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.