Another Corny Lawsuit? Ummm—you decide. A consumer fraud lawsuit was filed this week—testing the boundaries of food labeling vis-a-vis PepsiCo’s snacks business, Frito-Lay. The issue? Frito-lay is misleading consumers by making claims that its products, which contain genetically modified corn and vegetable oils, are all-natural, according to the lawsuit. (All natural corn=all natural chips? Really?)
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that by labeling some of its Tostitos and SunChips products as “made with all-natural ingredients” Frito-Lay is misleading consumers because genetically modified corn and vegetable oils are also present in the product. “The reasonable consumer assumes that seeds created by swapping genetic material across species to exhibit traits not naturally theirs are not ‘all natural’,” the claim states.
The claimant is pursuing the case on the basis of a violation of California and federal laws relating to unfair and fraudulent claims. I’m still struggling with the thought of any of this type of “food” being ok on any level—never mind whether or not it’s genetically modified. Bah humbug!
Diamonds are Forever. So’s the De Beers Price Fixing Settlement now. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has issued an opinion today upholding the settlement in the antitrust class action litigation against the South African company De Beers, the world’s largest diamond supplier, for allegedly conspiring to monopolize the sale of rough diamonds.
The appellate court affirmed an order by U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler of the District of New Jersey that approved a settlement under which De Beers agreed to pay $295 million to U.S. jewelry makers, retailers, and consumers who purchased diamonds and diamond jewelry beginning in 1994.
The settlement also prevents De Beers from continuing its illegal business practices and requires De Beers to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court to enforce the settlement. Ouch! That’s a wee bit more than a wrist slap —but hey—that tennis bracelet sure looks good…
Talk about Soaring Gas Prices… More price fixing—this time in the stock market (now there’s a surprise)—and this time the guilty party is Amaranth Advisors LLC. They got hit with a $77.1 million settlement in a securities lawsuit brought by traders who allege the hedge fund manipulated the natural gas market. Whoa Nelly!
According to Businessweek, Amaranth collapsed in 2006 after losing $6.6 billion on natural gas trades. In August 2009, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that Amaranth paid $7.5 million to settle market manipulation allegations however, in their lawsuit, the traders presented an expert who estimated damages at $3.5 billion.
Then, in April of this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a $30 million civil penalty against Brian Hunter, an Amaranth trader accused of manipulating the natural gas market in 2006.
FYI—the settlement isn’t final yet—a hearing on final approval of the class-action, or group, accord is reportedly scheduled for March 27 and, if approved, could pave the way for investor reimbursement.
Ok—That’s a wrap for this week. Merry Christmas—Happy Hanukkah—and Season’s Greetings—have a wonderful holiday everyone…