On July 12, 2021, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against popular yogurt brand Chobani LLC, alleging that the brand misleads consumers by promoting itself as the first Fair Trade USA Dairy company.
In the complaint, named plaintiffs Jessica Austin and Peter Hoffman describe how Chobani proudly represents its products as Fair Trade Certified Dairy on the labels and boasts that when consumers purchase Chobani products, they are empowering dairy farmers and laborers, supporting safe working conditions for laborers and promoting animal care. However, the plaintiffs argue, that rather than supporting dairy workers, the so-called Fair Trade Certified Dairy Standard is a sham process that does not reflect the needs and values of workers.
The complaint points out that the overwhelming majority of dairy farm laborer are immigrants who are often reluctant to speak up about mistreatment due to their legal status. The plaintiffs allege that had they known the truth of the Fair Trade Certified Dairy Standards—that they failed to assume a minimum of basic worker protections—they would not have bought Chobani products or would have paid less for them.
The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a class made up of Florida and New York residents who purchased Chobani products during the statutes of limitations. The suit brings causes of action for Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, breaches of Express Warranty, Implied Warranty of Merchantability and Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment.
The case is: Austin et al. v. Chobani LLC, Case No.: 7:21-cv-05949, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
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