Tuesday, 09 April 2013 11:29
Perdue Can’t Dismiss “Humanely Raised” Chicken Class Action
By Mike Holter
A New Jersey federal judge has refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit
accusing Perdue Farms Inc. of falsely advertising its factory farmed chicken
products as “Humanely Raised,” saying it is entirely possible for consumers to
believe this statement means the chickens were treated humanely up until the
time of death, including slaughter.
On March 31, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp denied Perdue’s motion to
dismiss the class action lawsuit, which was filed by two members of The
Humane Society of the United States.
Plaintiffs allege in the Perdue Farms class action lawsuit that Perdue is illegally
marketing its “Harvestland” brand products as “Humanely Raised” and “USDA Process Verified,” which has duped consumers into purchasing these chicken products.
The class action lawsuit alleges that Perdue’s standards for how it raises its chickens allow for treatment that no reasonable consumer would consider “humane,” including painful handling and shackling of live birds; living conditions that prevent normal resting behavior and cause painful health problems; transportation of birds on cramped trucks for long periods of
time in extreme temperatures with no food or water; and the inhumane slaughter of birds, including being electrically shocked, drowned, scalded and cut ineffectively or partially while fully conscious.
The Perdue class action lawsuit further claims that putting “USDA Process Verified” on the label next to “Humanely Raised”
tricks consumers into believing that the Harvestland chickens were approved and endorsed by the USDA as humanely raised.
A key element to Perdue’s dismissal bid was its argument that a reasonable consumer would not expect a “Humanely Raised” label to be an assurance that the birds are humanely slaughtered. Judge Shipp disagreed saying, “Plaintiffs have sufficiently pled that a reasonable consumer may have interpreted the
Humanely Raised label to include the processes to which the chicken is exposed throughout its life, including slaughter.”
Shipp denied Perdue’s motion to dismiss, clearing the way for plaintiffs to continue with the class action lawsuit. This is the
third amended complaint.
The Perdue Harvestland Chicken Class Action Lawsuit case is Nadine Hemy, et al. v. Perdue Farms Inc., et al., Case
No. 11-cv-888-MAS-LAG, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
The plaintiffs are represented by Tycko & Zavareei LLP, David M. Wacksman Esq., and attorneys with The HSUS’ Animal
Protection Litigation Section.