Lawsuits

Class Action Law Suit Directed at Chocolate Companies

We will be reporting more on this in the future.  This is not the same law suit as Doe. VS. Nestlé, Cargill and ADM.  

This was reported in the Court House News Service by NICHOLAS IOVINO 

Chocolate Giants Face Slave Labor Lawsuits

By NICHOLAS IOVINO 

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Three of the nation's largest chocolate companies - Mars, Nestle and Hershey - get cocoa from suppliers that use child slave labor, customers claimed Monday in three federal class actions.
     All three lawsuits, filed by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, claim the candy giants "turn a blind eye" to human rights abuses by cocoa suppliers in West Africa while falsely portraying themselves as socially and ethically responsible.
     "America's largest and most profitable food conglomerates should not tolerate child labor, much less child slave labor, anywhere in their supply chains," the complaints state.
     They accuse the companies of false advertising and violations of California business and consumer laws. All the plaintiffs claim they would not have bought the defendants' chocolate had they known it was produced with child slave labor.
     All cite the defendants' corporate responsibility statements, including Hershey's declaration that it has "zero tolerance for the worst forms of child labor in its supply chain."
     Lead plaintiff Elaine McCoy claims Nestle has publicly embraced protection of human rights as one of its core business principles, but fails to live up to it or to disclose the truth to customers.

For the rest of the article CLICK HERE

Bloomberg picks up story about Hershey Investors Suing over Child Labor

Last fall two law suits came out with decisions that went in favor of the cocoa kids and not in favor of the chocolate companies.  We are happy to see that Bloomberg picked up the following story!  --SFC

Hershey Investors Suing Over Child Labor Can Pursue Files by Jeff Feeley  Bloomberg News

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hershey Co., the largest chocolate maker in the U.S., was ordered to face a lawsuit by investors seeking to force it to turn over records about cocoa from African farms that may use illegal child labor. 

A Louisiana pension fund raised legitimate questions about Hershey executives’ knowledge of how much of the company’s cocoa, grown in West Africa, may have been produced by child slaves, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Travis Laster said yesterday. He overruled a master’s recommendation that the shareholders’ request to see cocoa-supply chain records be denied. 

West Africa, including top growers Ghana and Ivory Coast, accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa-bean production. Pressure to manufacture chocolate without harming children may grow as global sales of sweets head toward a record in 2014 and candy makers process more beans, according to data by Euromonitor International Ltd.  

The suit’s allegations create “a reasonable inference about the possibility” some cocoa Hershey officials bought from Ghana and Ivory Coast suppliers may be tainted by the use of illegal child labor, Laster said at a hearing in Wilmington, Delaware. Those questions may be “sufficient to warrant further investigation,” he said. 

See rest of the article at Bloomberg News

Current Lawsuits (continued)

LOUISIANA  MUNICIPAL POLICE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM (LAMPERS) VS The Hershey Company

In 2012 after Hershey denied a request of LAMPERS to examine internal documents LAMPERS filed a 220 complaint which would give them access. LAMPERS was seeking details about Hershey's cocoa suppliers.  LAMPERS had two reasons to be concerned.  First, on ethical and moral grounds and secondly, if former cocoa slaves are allowed to sue (See about court case) then they wouldn't want to tie their money up in a company what could be facing thousands of lawsuits.

Hershey's fought to dismiss the complaint on lack of evidence of mismanagement.  But, the ruling Judge, Vice Chancellor Laster said that suspicion is enough to let the complaint go through.

References:

The Court Document

Law 360 article about the case