Monday, December 4, 2006

L.A. Times Pro-Defense Editorial

Interesting editorial in today's Los Angeles Times: The mock-amole defense.  Combining this editorial with a prior L.A. Times editorial against punitive damages in the Williams tobacco case, one might tentatively conclude a pro-defense litigation position for the L.A. Times editorial board -- noteworthy for a major urban newpaper.  Here's an excerpt from today's editorial:

WE NOW KNOW the precise day the United States lost its innocence. On Wednesday, Nov. 29, court papers revealed that Kraft Foods Inc. — the company that has brought us Cheez Whiz, Mallomars and Kool-Aid Mad ScienTwists — markets some foods that are not 100% natural.

In her lawsuit against the prepared-foods giant, Brenda Lifsey of Los Angeles argues that Kraft Dips Guacamole contains such ingredients as partially hydrogenated soybean and coconut oils, corn syrup, whey and food starch, along with yellow and blue food coloring. Only 2% of the product consists of avocado — generally considered the primary ingredient in the popular dip.

Lifsey could have found all that out by reading the label before purchasing the product, but she claims she was unaware of the dip's ingredients until she concluded it didn't taste "avocadoey" enough. That's a surprising oversight from a woman savvy enough to have participated in multiple class-action lawsuits against large retail businesses. An alert shopper would have had plenty of other warnings too — Ray E. Gallo, Lifsey's attorney, has been advertising since this summer for plaintiffs in a guacamole lawsuit, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been arguing for three years that guacamole-ish dips like Kraft's should be relabeled.


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On the other hand, in the last two years, the same paper published a wild attack on arbitration clauses, a wild attack on risk adjusted insurance premiums, a defense of the McDonald's coffee case, and an accusation that reformers are intentionally spreading untrue urban legends about lawsuits. It's early to call the Times a pro-defense paper.

Posted by: Ted | Dec 5, 2006 4:58:39 AM

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