Federal Judge Rejects Red Lobster's Attempt to Dismiss Sustainability Lawsuit

Federal Judge Rejects Red Lobster's Attempt to Dismiss Sustainability Lawsuit

In a recent development, a U.S. District Judge, John A. Kronstadt, has ruled against Red Lobster's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that accuses the popular restaurant chain of fraudulent claims regarding the sustainability of its Maine lobster and farmed shrimp.

In a recent development, a U.S. District Judge, John A. Kronstadt, has ruled against Red Lobster's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that accuses the popular restaurant chain of fraudulent claims regarding the sustainability of its Maine lobster and farmed shrimp.

The lawsuit, initially filed by Dezzi Rae Marshall in California, alleges that Red Lobster's shrimp and lobster are sourced from farms and fisheries that do not meet the high environmental standards the company asserts. Marshall, represented by Richman Law and Policy, known for similar lawsuits against companies like ALDI and Cooke, claims that the seafood chain engages with suppliers employing environmentally harmful practices.

Richman Law and Policy Animal Welfare Legal Fellow, Brooke Dekolf, expressed satisfaction with the court's decision, stating, "We are pleased that the court denied defendants' motion to dismiss in its entirety. We hope that courts will continue to recognize the value consumers place on ensuring that meals 'promised' as sustainable actually fulfill that promise and minimize harm to aquatic animals."

Judge Kronstadt justified his decision by citing the evidence presented by the plaintiff, asserting that it was sufficient for the lawsuit to proceed. The complaint contends that Red Lobster's shrimp originates from farms in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and China, known for environmentally destructive practices and inadequate reporting of environmental data. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has also advised against choosing shrimp products from these regions for those seeking sustainable options.

Furthermore, the lawsuit criticizes Red Lobster's lobster sourcing from Maine, claiming that suppliers utilize environmentally harmful practices threatening endangered populations of North American right whales. The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery's violation of the Endangered Species Act led to the suspension of its certification by the Marine Stewardship Council, a point emphasized in Kronstadt’s denial of Red Lobster’s motion to dismiss. This suspension followed concerns about the fishing gear's potential risk to North American right whales.

In light of these allegations, Judge Kronstadt concluded that the plaintiff, a non-expert in environmental science or sustainability processes, had presented sufficient grounds for the lawsuit to proceed. The ruling marks a significant development in the ongoing legal battle, highlighting concerns about the veracity of sustainability claims made by major seafood chains like Red Lobster.

Source: Christine Blank (Jan 3, 2024). Judge denies Red Lobster’s motion to dismiss class-action sustainability suit. Seafood Source. https://bit.ly/4aIvT8R