Parties settle “Made in USA” lawsuit in California. (subscription to Law360 required)

  • As previously covered on this blog, a product may bear a “Made in USA”-type (MIU) claim in accordance with federal guidelines where “all or virtually all” of the product is made in the U.S.  Until a recent statutory change, California’s MIU claim standard had been much stricter, prohibiting such claims if any unit or part of the product has been entirely or substantially made outside of the U.S.  Major lawsuits have been filed based on allegations that components or ingredients of manufactured products bearing MIU claims came from foreign sources, in violation of the “zero-tolerance” policy.  One high-profile lawsuit — David Paz et al. v. AG Adriano Goldschmied Inc. et al. (S.D. Cal.) — now has settled, with the defendants — Nordstrom and a denim manufacturer — agreeing to pay $4 million to the plaintiff class.  The case was based on allegations that jeans sold at retail bore MIU claims although the fabric, thread, buttons, rivets, and components of the zipper assembly were produced outside of the U.S.  Although this settlement concludes the instant case — and possibly may serve as precedent for settlements in other pending cases involving similar allegations — a judicial disposition might have produced a more nuanced analysis or a closer examination of the limits (if any) of California’s prior zero-tolerance standard.

New York City’s sodium warning requirement takes effect.

  • As previously covered on this blog, New York City (NYC) health officials adopted the nation’s first sodium warning requirement.  The rule requires restaurants that are part of chains with more than 15 locations nationwide to display a salt shaker icon on menus and menu boards next to any food item with a high sodium content (>2,300 mg of sodium) or on tags next to any food on display that is a food item with a high sodium content.  Restaurants also must post the following statement conspicuously at the point of purchase:  “Warning: [salt shaker icon] indicates that the sodium (salt) content of this item is higher than the total daily recommended limit (2300 mg).  High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.”  The rule took effect on December 1, 2015.  Although the rule is now effective, the National Restaurant Association has indicated that it plans to sue the NYC health department over the requirements.  It remains to be seen whether opponents will challenge the rule, and if so, whether such a challenge will succeed.