In an interesting and most noteworthy happening, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Justice Department for advice on a bid by the nation’s largest grocery chains to block customers from suing over violations of government food-labeling rules. Supermarkets led by Supervalu Inc., Safeway Inc. and Kroger Co. contend that only government regulators, and not customers, can enforce federal and state labeling laws. The companies want to stop a lawsuit accusing them of concealing that salmon they sold contained artificial coloring. This is just another area where federal preemption is being pushed.
In the California case, that state’s Supreme Court allowed the customer claim lawsuit to go forward. In their appeal, the supermarkets claim the California court ruling was “an open invitation to private Plaintiffs nationwide to bring class actions.” The high court may add this case to its 2008-09 docket. The central question for the court in the new case is whether the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which governs food labeling at the federal level, bars private efforts to enforce similar state laws. The fact that the court asked the Justice Department for help is very interesting. It would seem obvious that the California state court made the correct decision under well-established law.
Source: Bloomberg News
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