Greater than “puffery”: lawsuits in opposition to Canada Goose outlast dismissal – litigation, mediation & arbitration

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More than “puffery”: lawsuits against Canada Goose survive motion for dismissal

August 05, 2021

Proskauer Rose LLP

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Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York recently largely denied a motion to reject claims that Canada Goose had misled consumers by claiming that the fur on Canada Goose jackets was ethically and sustainably sourced. In doing so, the court found that the plaintiff’s allegations were “thin” but found that the plausible had plausibly alleged that a reasonable consumer would be misled. Lee v Canada Goose US, Inc., No. 20 Civ. 9809 (VM) (SDNY June 29, 2021).

In his complaint, the plaintiff cited Canada Goose’s allegations that the fur was obtained through “ethical, responsible and sustainable sourcing”. The plaintiff also alleged a label on the coats related to Canada Goose’s “Fur Transparency Standard” and stated that the company only purchases fur from licensed trappers in accordance with certain third-party standards. The plaintiff alleged these representations were misleading because allegedly inhuman practices such as leghold traps and snares were widespread in the United States and Canada.

However, the plaintiff did not specifically claim that Canada Goose obtained fur from coyotes caught using these methods. Rather, he claimed that these supposedly inhumane practices were widespread by trappers who adhere to the standards cited by Canada Goose. Although the court found these allegations flimsy, they were sufficient to support a reasonable conclusion that Canada Goose obtained fur from trappers whose methods are inhuman.

But not all of the plaintiff’s claims survived the dismissal motion. The District Court denied claims that Canada Goose’s representations misled customers regarding (1) compliance with third-party trapping standards and (2) licensed trapping operations. The plaintiff merely alleged that the standards / regulations themselves were inhumane, not that Canada Goose’s statements about compliance were false. This case is just one of a recent wave of sustainability-related class action lawsuits. For example, class actions have been filed against:

  • Red Lobster is based on representations that its menu items are “Traceable, Sustainable. Responsible” and “SEAFOOD WITH STANDARDS”. Marshall v Red Lobster Management, Case No. 2: 21-cv-04786 (CD Cal. Filed June 11, 2021).
  • Duck trap based on representations that its salmon is “sustainably sourced”. Abigail Starr v Mowi Asa, Case No. 20-cv-00488-LEW (D. Me. Submitted December 31, 2020)
  • Allbirds is based on representations that its wool meets “high standards of agriculture, land management and animal welfare”. Dwyer v Allbirds, Case No. 7: 21-cv-05238 (SDNY, filed June 13, 2021).
  • Reynolds Consumer Products is based on a belief that its Hefty Recycling Bags are “recyclable” and “reduce your environmental impact”. Hanscom v Reynolds Consumer Products, Case 3: 21-cv-03434-SK (ND Cal. Filed May 7, 2021).

We encourage our readers to contact us to discuss risk reduction strategies when designing sustainability-related advertising messages.

More than “puffery”: lawsuits against Canada Goose survive motion for dismissal

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