PC Food Litigation Index: Q3 2020

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and limitations on court operations, food litigation filings continue to exceed numbers seen in prior years.  As our Food Litigation colleagues wrote in Law360 (sub. req.), food litigation filings are anticipated to surpass 2019’s record numbers by nearly 20%, even though general commercial litigation filings across all industries have decreased significantly.

Topically, false-fact, Proposition 65, and vanilla cases continued to dominate new filings in Q3 2020.  Plaintiffs alleged in more than 40 new cases that the labels or marketing of a food or beverage misrepresented some aspect of the product.  There were at least 15 new Proposition 65 cases this quarter, indicating that Proposition 65 remains a filing hotspot.  Courts, especially those in New York, are seeing an increased number of claims related to vanilla.  So far in 2020, the number of vanilla-related claims has exceeded that for all of calendar year 2019, and there were more than 10 new vanilla-related filings in Q3 alone.

On jurisdiction, filings in New York has continued to edge out those of California as the most frequent forum for food litigation matters, continuing a trend starting in Q4 2019. Between January and September 2020, New York courts have seen more than 70 new food litigation cases and California courts have received fewer than 50.

Annual Filing Trends

Filings by Jurisdiction

Filings by Category

[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.

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