Food Claims and Litigation Conference

Food Claims and Litigation Conference
Event Program



Tuesday, February 21

5:30 - 7:00 pm

Welcome Reception (Dana Point Lawn)
Sponsored by Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP


Wednesday, February 22

7:30 - 8:30 am
Continental Breakfast (Monarch Bay Courtyard)
Sponsored by Bonner Kiernan Trebach & Crociata, LLP

8:30 - 8:45 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks (Salon 3-6)
Steven Leslie, Esq.
Senior Manager and Counsel, GMA Claims Program
Grocery Manufacturers Association

8:45-9:30 am

Recent Developments in Food Product Liability Litigation (Salon 3-6)

Paul E. Benson, Esq.
Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP

Michael Best & Friedrich’s Paul Benson will set the stage for the conference by discussing the trends observed in product liability litigation and related legislation affecting the food industry over the past year, and also providing a preview of issues that are likely to impact the industry in the near future.

9:30-10:15 am

From Health-Focused Marketing to Unappetizing Litigation: The Latest Trends in Food Labeling and Advertising Class Action (Salon 3-6)

Angel Garganta, Esq.
Arnold & Porter

Trent Norris, Esq.
Arnold & Porter
Scott Rickman, Esq.
Associate General Counsel
Del Monte Foods

The panel will provide an update on the past year's trends in food marketing and advertising consumer class action litigation. They will discuss the latest waves of food class actions, including trans fat, "all natural", and other cases. Based on recent case law, they will also suggest strategies for avoiding or defeating such claims.

10:15 - 10:30 am 

Refreshment Break (Foyer)
Sponsored by Dickie McCamey & Chilcote


10:30 - 11:15 am

The Weakest Link:  Managing Supply Chain Risk in the Food Industry
(Salon 3-6)

Jonathan M. Cohen, Esq.,
Gilbert LLP
Stephen A. Weisbrod, Esq., Weisbrod, Matteis & Copley, PLLC

Whether through outsourcing, off-shore manufacturing, or reliance on multiple suppliers, the complexity of modern supply chains poses critical and potentially threatening challenges to food companies.  This session will discuss how supply-chains multiply the financial risks faced by food companies and the techniques available to food companies to control those risks.  The panel will focus on the challenges of litigation with suppliers and customers, as well as the financial and insurance tools available to companies to address risks.


11:15 - 12:00 pm

The Evolution of Mass Torts in the Post-FSMA Era (Salon 3-6)

Richard G. Morgan, Esq.
Joel H. Smith, Esq.
Bowman & Brooke, LLP

The new era of mass tort litigation requires companies to be prepared to defend themselves and their products against a simultaneous assault in arenas that include courtrooms, Congress, regulatory agencies, and public relations. In this session, one of the lead outside counsel for Toyota borrows from his experience in a ringside seat for attack on the automaker, while an experienced food safety attorney explains how the mass torts phenomena has and will become the new reality for the food industry as well.  Both will also discuss how lessons learned during recent experiences with regulatory agencies can assist the food industry in interacting with the FDA and defending against a mass torts onslaught.


12:00 - 1:00 pm

Luncheon (Monarch Bay Courtyard)
Sponsored by: Roetzell & Andress
Concurrent Track A: 1:15 - 4:30 pm

1:15 - 2:00 pm

Current Litigation Trends and Strategies

Update from the Frontiers of Junk Science:  The Latest Law and Latest Trends (Pavilion 1-3)
Corey L. Gordon, Esq.
Blackwell Burke, P.A.

This session will focus on “junk science” issues that are affecting the food industry or could affect it in the near future.  This will include an overview of recent Daubert decisions and their potential impact, an update on recent claims against the industry that are in some way unusual or novel, and predictions on how junk science may be used to attack the industry in the future.


2:00 - 2:45 pm

The Topps Meat, LLC E. coli Outbreak:  A Study of an H.U.S. Case (Pavilion 1-3)
Christopher Lee, Esq.
Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.

Constantine “Dean” Nickas, Esq.
Wicker, Smith, O’Hara, McCoy & Ford, P.A.

This presentation will explore the issues confronted before and during the trial of a case involving a 15-year-old girl who developed HUS from an e. Coli outbreak involving frozen hamburgers.  The presentation discusses trace back, liability and expert issues confronted by the parties.


2:45 - 3:00 pm

Refreshment Break (Foyer)

Sponsored by Mintzer Sarowitz Ledva & Meyers, LLP


3:00 - 3:45 pm 

The New Frontier:  Genetically Modified Organism Litigation (Pavilion 1-3)

Sarah L. Brew, Esq.
Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP
As more genetically modified crops are entering the food supply, consumer groups have stepped up efforts to ban or require labeling of foods that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  Beyond calling for called for boycotts of popular brands and retail stores, consumers have now begun filing suit, claiming that labeling products containing GMOs as “natural” violates state consumer fraud statutes.  This presentation discusses the use and regulation of GMOs as ingredients in food and increasing  litigation relating to GMO ingredients.


3:45-4:30 pm

The Bare-Naked Truth About Class Actions Involving “All Natural” Food Products (Pavilion 1-3)

Doug Besman, Esq.
Senior Counsel – Litigation
Nestlé USA
Paul La Scala, Esq.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

Food products labeled “all natural” have become a natural target for plaintiffs’ attorneys claiming that these labels are false and misleading because the products contain an artificial ingredient.  Using recently filed complaints, the presenters will identify the issues raised by this trend of consumer class action complaints and offer suggestions on how to combat these claims.

Concurrent Track B: 1:15 - 4:30 pm

1:15 - 1:45 pm

Emerging Trends and Key Issues - Product Recall & Contamination Insurance (Plaza Room)

Bernie Steves
Managing Director Crisis Management Practice
Aon Risk Services

Topics to be discussed include changes and trends in the insurance marketplace for product recall, product contamination and restaurant contamination insurance including several new coverage options that have become available or have been expanded over the past several years and may be important in responding to the FSMA.  New carriers, capacity and coverages will be reviewed in detail along with their affect in the insurance marketplace.  


1:45 - 2:15 pm

Nutrition Keys:  A Healthy Serving of Facts Up Front (Plaza Room)

Mary Sophos
Executive Vice President, Policy and Strategic Planning
Grocery Manufacturers Association

The Facts Up Front nutrition labeling initiative is the most significant revision to food and beverage labeling in more than 20 years. America's best known food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, representing over 70 percent of packaged food, have teamed up to place important nutrition facts on the front of their packages so that consumers - especially busy parents - will have access to the information they need to make informed decisions and build healthy diets right from the start when they shop. In this session you will hear the details of this unprecedented effor to make nutrition labeling simple and easy to use for consumers as well as the details of the anticipated $50 million Facts Up Front consumer education campaign.


2:15 - 2:45

Update on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) (Plaza Room)
Shannon Cole, MS, PMP
Senior Director, Science Program Management
Grocery Manufacturers Association

Join GMA’s leading FSMA expert for an overview of the act, updates on changes that have occurred since its passage, and how this will impact the food, beverage, and consumer product industry.



2:45-3:00 pm

Refreshment Break (Foyer)

Sponsored by Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers, LLP


3:00-3:45 pm

FSMA and Proposition 65 Litigation Issues (Plaza Room)

Melissa A. Jones, Esq.,
Stoel Rives, LLP
Lee N. Smith, Esq., Stoel Rives, LLP

The recent FSMA statute contains numerous new provisions that include new rules for recalls, inspections, detentions, registration suspensions and certifications of imported food. The statute lowers the evidentiary standards that are used to determine when and where they can implement the provisions of the statute. These provisions have already led to novel litigation by industry against the regulatory authorities and will likely involve more. This session will discuss these issues as well as the potential impact of the FSMA on lawsuits by private plaintiffs against manufacturers. Additionally it will provide an update on Proposition 65 food-based litigation, including fruit juices and coffee products.


3:45-4:30 pm

Water:  The New Litigation Horizon for Food & Beverage Companies (Plaza Room)

Kevin Underhill, Esq.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

There is likely a global water crisis on the horizon, with 1.2 billion people at risk of not having access to safe, fresh water.  Meanwhile, agriculture and the production of food consumes more than 70% of available water.  As the demand for water increases, this new litigation coastline is rising for food and beverage companies.  This session will focus on the potential liability issues, including claims of contamination and product stewardship against bottled water manufacturers, toxic tort claims arising from residue and runoff as a result of food product manufacturing, consumer fraud claims associated with water products, potential water fluoridation litigation, and many others.

6:00-9:00 pm

Reception and Dinner  (Pacific Promenade Lawn)
(Reception 6:00-7:00; Dinner 7:00-9:00)                             
Reception is sponsored by Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP
Dinner is sponsored by Arnold & Porter, LLp


7:30 - 8:30 am

Continental Breakfast
(Monarch Bay Courtyard)
Sponsored by Gwin Steinmetz Baird

8:30-9:15 am

Crisis Management:  Legal, Public Relations and Insurance Coverage Considerations
(Salon 3-6)

Joseph Arnold, Esq., Cozen O'Connor
Kendall Hayden, Esq., Cozen O'Connor
Art Samansky, Principle, The Samansky Group


9:15-10:00 am

Defending your Brand in the World of Twitter (Salon 3-6)

Hih Song Kim, Esq.
Assistant General Counsel
Ronald J. Levine, Esq.
Herrick Feinstein LLP

This session will address the issues raised in responding to a social media attack on the company's brand, both in the context of litigation and pre-litigation claims.  Food manufacturers and distributors must have a game plan in place before any such attack takes place, and also need to know their legal rights and potential obstacles when dealing with social media venues.


10:00-10:15 am

Refreshment Break (Foyer) Sponsored by Cozen O’Connor

10:15-11:00 am

Some Recent and Emerging Trends in Foodborne Illness Litigation (Salon 3-6)

Al Maxwell, Esq.
Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial

In this session, top plaintiff and defense attorneys in the food-borne illness litigation arena will discuss recent trends and where litigation is headed in the year ahead.  They will provide insight on the types of actions they are focusing on and will help you prepare and respond to new and innovative claims.


11:00-11:45 am

Intellectual Property Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry (Salon 3-6)

Dr. Sunwoo Lee, Esq.
Roetzel & Andress

Intellectual property law provides numerous types of market protections to companies in the ever-competitive food and beverage industry.  There are differences in the types of intellectual property relied upon between “business-to-business” companies and “business-to-consumer” companies.  This presentation explains the differences as well as all of the types of intellectual property protections available to the food and beverage companies.  Recent case law will also be presented to illustrate the latest developments in the law for each type of intellectual property.


11:45-12:00 pm  

Closing Remarks and Adjournment (Salon 3-6)