On June 12, 2019, premium humane milk producer Fairlife LLC was served with proposed class claims in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois claiming that the company engages in deceptive marketing tactics.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Andrew Schwartz and Alice Vitiello ague that Fairlife intentionally deceives customers into believing that the company treats its cows humanely in order to charge consumers a premium price for the product. Fairlife has built a brand image as a responsible, humane producer of milk and has boasted that its cows have comfortable sand beds and that freestanding stalls are provided to allow the cows constant care and relaxation.
According to the complaint, Fairlife owns and operates two farms. Fair Oak Farms, referred to as the “Disneyland” of agricultural tourism, receives more than 600,000 paying visitors per year. Fair Oaks Farm is largely a tourist-oriented farm with display cows, exhibits and related food and rest facilities. The other farm, Prairies Edge Dairy Farms, is a working farm where the majority of Fairlife milk is produced and is not open to the public.
On June 4, 2019, not-for-profit animal welfare organization Animal Recovery, released a video that details systematic animal abuse at Fairlife’s farms. According to the plaintiffs, the cows at are not provided adequate medical attention and in summer are subjected to 110-degree temperatures and are frequently dehydrated and malnourished. Disabled calves are housed and then transported to veal farms. Adult cows who are no longer able to produce milk are shot with a weapon too small in caliber to properly euthanize the animal, causing the cows to slowly suffer and die over the course of several hours. Despite these cruel practices, plaintiff alleges, Fairlife has taken advantage of consumers’ willingness to pay a premium price of humanely sourced foods.
The plaintiffs seek to represent a class made up of all persons in the U.S. who purchased Fairlife products. The suit brings causes of action for unjust enrichment, violation of Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices and violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.
The case is: Andrew Schwartz et al. v. Fairlife LLC, Case No.: 1:19-cv-03929, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
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