Monday, February 25, 2019

Week 8 - Is it worth paying extra for beer brewed in Hawaii?

Broomfield v Craft Brew Alliance Inc.
Northern District of California

In 2017, a federal judge in California called Hawaii “a state as well as a state of mind” and refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Craft Brew Alliance Inc [CBA], the maker of Kona craft beer, of misleading consumers into believing the beer was manufactured in Hawaii, and causing them to overpay. 

She said this was despite a disclaimer on Kona packaging saying the beer was brewed in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state, as well as Hawaii.  “The Hawaiian address, the map of Hawaii identifying Kona’s brewery on the Big Island, and the statement ‘visit our brewery and pubs whenever you are in Hawaii’ ... are specific and measurable representations of fact that could deceive a reasonable consumer,” the judge wrote.

In September 2018, the lawsuit was certified as a class actionQuestions presented by the lawsuit are (1) whether CBA materially misrepresented that its beers were brewed in Hawaii, (2) whether consumers reasonably relied on those representations, (3) whether CBA intentionally misled consumers, and (4) what price premium, if any, consumers paid based on the understanding that the beers were brewed in Hawaii.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Week 7 - French culture is rude and disrespectful?

Since we already have one non-US case, might as well have another.

Guillaume Rey, a French waiter living in British Columbia Canada, was fired for being aggressive, rude, and disrespectful, despite verbal and written warnings to stop the behavior.  He says his behavior wasn’t out of line – he’s just French. 

This is a waiter in France.  This is NOT Mr. Rey.  Also, this waiter does not appear to be rude and disrespectful.  You be the judge.
Mr. Rey filed a complaint in March 2018 with British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal.  He alleges his firing was discrimination against his French culture, which "tends to be more direct and expressive."

His former employer attempted to have the complaint dismissed, but its request was denied.  “Mr Rey will have to explain what it is about his French heritage that would result in behavior that people misinterpret as a violation of workplace standards of acceptable conduct,” the tribunal wrote in its decision.

In another case before the same British Columbia tribunal, a Vancouver man who sent hundreds of abusive emails to his city council complained after his emails were eventually blocked.  Abusive messages, he said, were part of his identity as a “brash, loud and obnoxious gay male.”  The tribunal disagreed, stating that being gay “does not insulate him from the expectation that he treat people with basic courtesy and respect.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

Week 6 - Change your name, change your gender, change your age?

This is a Dutch case so it doesn't have the same case identifier information as a US case, but it's too good to not write about.

Emile Ratelband, a citizen of the Netherlands, age 69, was the voice of the character Vladimir Trunkov in the Dutch-language version of the Pixar film Cars 2.  He petitioned the court to change his birthday from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969, thereby reducing his age by 20 years.  He claims his age was affecting his employment chances and his success rate on the dating app, Tinder.

He compares the change to those identifying as transgender.

"We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can't I decide my own age?" he said.

On December 3, 2018, the Court denied his request.  “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships.” 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Week 5 - Is the American Heart Association check-mark logo misleading?

Warner v Starkist
Northern District of New York

Plaintiff Abraham Jacob Warner filed this lawsuit in April 2018, alleging that the American Heart Association [AMA] check-mark logo included on cans of StarKist tuna is misleading to consumers because it makes consumers believe that StarKist tuna is healthier than other tuna without the label.  In fact, the AMA label is a paid endorsement.  If a product meets the AMA standards, the company can pay the AMA for the right to use the label on its products and in its advertising.  Federal law requires companies using a paid endorsement to make a statement in close proximity to the claim, informing consumers that the organization or individual was compensated for the endorsement. 

Oddly, this is the only photo of a can of StarKist tuna I could find on Wikimedia Commons
The AHA responded with a statement that participating food manufacturers pay an administrative fee and an annual fee to use the logo.  The fees offset the costs and expenses of the program, including program management and the testing and certification of products.  Any brand or company can use the logo if the product meets the requirements.

StarKist filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the AMA logo is a “certification process, not an endorsement.”  The motion also points out that Plaintiff's complaint does not allege that the StarKist products don't qualify for the AMA logo, or that its advertising is otherwise false.