Walmart has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging their Organic Marketside eggs are falsely advertised as being “farm fresh” when reportedly the laying hens are confined inside industrial poultry houses with no access to the outdoors.
Plaintiff Donnie Lee Gibson II filed the false advertising class action lawsuit against Walmart and Cal-Main Foods on January 8 in California federal court. Gibson asserts the companies market Organic Marketside eggs as having provided the laying hens “with outdoor access” and take advantage of consumers who will pay more for eggs labeled as “farm fresh”.
Cal-Maine produces these alleged “farm fresh” eggs at its 24,000 square-foot plant in Chase, Kansas, for marketing and sale under the Organic Marketside private label for its top customer – Walmart. These store brand eggs are advertised as laid by hens “free to roam, nest, and perch in a protected barn with outdoor access” and are priced at $3.97 a dozen, compared to $1.86 a dozen for the conventional Walmart Great Value brand eggs.
However, the lawsuit points to an investigation showing that the Cal-Main hens supplying the private label eggs for Walmart actually do not have access to the outdoors. Instead, the hundreds of thousands of laying hens are kept enclosed in eight different industrial barns and never step foot out onto the pastures surrounding these structures. According to recent images included in the complaint, the industrial barns have small barred and screened porches that are fully roofed, but do not actually provide access to the outdoors.
“Thus, consumers paying more for these eggs have been deceived. Defendants falsely advertise their ‘farm fresh’ eggs as having been laid by hens ‘with outdoor access,’ such that they have failed to meet their basic obligation of truthfulness to consumers.”
Many consumers nowadays are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, and often make purchasing decisions based on packaging labels. When food labels indicate “farm fresh” or “organic”, a reasonable consumer assumes that the product originates from an animal that has access to outdoor pastures and fresh air throughout the day. Furthermore, many consumers believe that outdoor access means natural ground and not concrete and vegetation that the animals can graze on.
The Organic Marketside eggs false advertising class action lawsuit further states that Gibson, nor other similarly situated consumers, would have purchased or paid a premium price if they had known the truth about the Organic Marketside eggs.
Gibson is seeking to represent a certified class of consumers who purchased Cal-Maine shell eggs sold under the Organic Marketside private label for Walmart in California since 2014.
Along with class restitution and injunctive relief, the Walmart Organic Marketside Eggs class action lawsuit is asking for an order enjoining Cal-Main and Walmart to stop its “unfair and deceptive” marketing practices.
Gibson and the proposed class are represented by Elaine T. Byszewski and Steve W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.
The Walmart Organic Marketside Eggs Class Action Lawsuit is Gibson, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al., Case No. 4:18-cv-00134-KAW, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.