Cooley has one of the country's leading litigation practices. Our diverse litigation capability includes the representation of clients in the food production, processing and distribution sectors when they are confronted with disputes, claims and the adversarial situations that arise in the course of doing business. We have advised clients in the food industry in regard to claims and disputes ranging from breach of contract actions, insurance coverage matters and false advertising claims to potentially catastrophic bacterial outbreak incidents that trigger action lawsuits and even criminal investigations.
When called upon, we work closely with our clients as strategists, defining the near-term and overarching objectives of the representation and implementing a comprehensive plan to achieve those objectives effectively and efficiently, while protecting and preserving the company's brand.
- Bacterial Outbreak—Crisis Management, Counseling and Litigation—Represented Natural Selection Foods in an array of legal issues following nationwide E. coli outbreak in fresh spinach, including:
- Class Action Litigation—Defended company in nationwide class action litigation alleging economic losses. Secured a complete dismissal.
- Criminal Investigation—Represented company in a federal criminal investigation. Persuaded U.S. Attorney to close investigation and issue a press release commending our client for its response to the outbreak.
- Congressional Testimony—Represented company's President in Congressional testimony, after which members of Congress lauded the company's response to the outbreak as an exemplary course of action that should be emulated by the entire industry.
- Bacterial Outbreak—Crisis Response, Internal Investigation and Litigation—Advised the board and management of a major food company in connection with a listeria outbreak in ice cream. Conducted internal investigation into causes, assisted in implementation of remedial measures, oversaw handling of individual cases, interacted with the FDA, and represented company in ensuing government investigations.
- Commercial Litigation—Represented food companies in numerous disputes involving breach of warranty claims, indemnification, and other contract issues.
- Pre-litigation Counseling—Advised companies seeking recovery of losses sustained from recall associated with salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter processed by Peanut Corporation of America.
- Insurance Recovery—Represented food companies at various stages of the distribution chain in connection with recovering losses following contamination event. Negotiated complex funding agreements with multiple third-party insurance carriers to ensure maximum insurance coverage following major outbreak.
- False Advertising/Labeling—Represented food company in an investigation brought by a district attorney's fraud unit in connection with the alleged mislabeling of fish products. Negotiated a favorable resolution.
- False Advertising/Sales Claims—Represented company in connection with lawsuit by state attorney general and district attorneys regarding alleging false advertising claims by the company's independent distributors. Negotiated favorable settlement.
- Criminal Investigation—Represented executive of a major food company in a Department of Justice investigation involving allegations of commercial bribery, price fixing and product mislabeling.
- Criminal Investigation—Represented major food company in conjunction with an FBI investigation at the frozen food plant of its supplier.