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January 31, 2013

Class Action Lawsuit Against Hebrew National / ConAgra Thrown Out

Hebrew-National-logo-2"The Court recognizes that the laws of Kashrut and other issues of Biblical and Talmudic interpretation are quite properly the subject of rabbinical debate and have evolved over the course of many centuries. …whether [Hebrew National] products are indeed “100% kosher” is a religious question that is not the proper subject of inquiry by this Court."

Hebrew-National-logo-2

From the decision issued today to throw the class action lawsuit against Hebrew National / ConAgra out of court:

…[A]s Plaintiffs acknowledge, Defendant “contracts with third-party kosher certification agency Triangle K to provide kosher food supervision and certification services.” (Id. ¶ 55.) It is Triangle K and its Orthodox rabbis who make such determinations. Naturally, therefore, this Court cannot determine whether Defendant’s Hebrew National products are in fact kosher without delving into questions of religious doctrine.

CONCLUSION

The definition of the word “kosher” is intrinsically religious in nature, and this Court may not entertain a lawsuit that will require it to evaluate the veracity of Defendant’s representations that its Hebrew National products meet any such religious standard. Because all of Plaintiffs’ claims derive from Defendant’s alleged misrepresentation that its Hebrew National products are “100% kosher,” all counts of the Amended Complaint are barred by the First Amendment. The Court finds that it lacks the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to preside over this dispute. Therefore, the Amended Complaint is properly dismissed in its entirety.
The Court recognizes that the laws of Kashrut and other issues of Biblical and Talmudic interpretation are quite properly the subject of rabbinical debate and have evolved over the course of many centuries. While perhaps perplexing, any change in Rabbi Ralbag’s, or Triangle K’s, position with respect to whether or not a common standard set of “objective” requirements for kosher slaughter exists is immaterial for purposes of the Court’s analysis here. (See Doc. No. 29 at 16-19.) Regrettably, however, the Court recognizes that its decision likely leaves consumers without a remedy—save opting not to purchase or ingest Defendant’s Hebrew National products, or other products certified by Triangle K—should the allegations in the Amended Complaint prove true. Nevertheless, whether such products are indeed “100% kosher” is a religious question that is not the proper subject of inquiry by this Court.

ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1.    Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint by Defendant ConAgra Foods, Inc. (Doc. No. [14]) is GRANTED.
2.    Plaintiffs’ First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. No. [8]) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: January 31, 2013    s/Donovan W. Frank DONOVAN W. FRANK
United States District Judge

In essence, this is exactly what I predicted would happen.

Here is the entire order as a PDF file:

Download ConAgra Dismissal Order 1.31.13

Comments

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Exactly. The kosher consumer must decide whose hashgacha he/she trusts, and act accordingly. If that's too hard, you can eliminate meat (and perhaps poultry) from your diet.

Any other ruling could have opened a Pandora's box. Imagine if Satmar sued the OU. Or a restaurant where female staff members wear slacks.

Wise decision.

"Judge Frank"? seriously? did he ask whether the parties wanted fries with this decision?

in any event...the decision makes sense. fake labor case masquerading as a silly class action case.

I don't understand why lawyers even thought it was an appropriate matter to bring to Court. A huge waste of everyone's time and money.

And in the eyes of the Gentiles, it again makes us look foolish.

Ultimately the consumer must decide what is "kosher" for them since not even the rabbis can always agree on what is kosher or not. There are multiple standards and practices of kashrut.

I recently stopped eating kosher meat due (a) to the fact that various rabbis said the meat is still kosher even if cruelty is involved in its production or slaughter and (b) the ever more ludicrous cost (which will continue to increase as the number of consumers decrease, partly because of the Charedim turning people away from Yiddishkeit).

I still regard myself as kosher though, because I only eat the permitted meats and fish although without kosher slaughter for the meat (but humanely killed nevertheless).


"Judge Frank"? seriously? did he ask whether the parties wanted fries with this decision?

Posted by: Eli, what me messiah? | January 31, 2013 at 05:45 PM

How old are you?

David:

Chicken, turkey [fowl] is biblically NOT considered meat. The rabbis said it was meat and needed to be shechk.

Besides chicken, turkey etc is much heathier to eat than beef

To Yurtur Binsonfire: go drag your hands on the floor someplace else

Hey Yuturd,

Don't you have a math test to study for? It's a school night! Stop writing nonsense or your mom will take away your computer privileges.

I'm sorry for breaking some rule or other here, but, well, it is the cocktail hour. I changed the parties and the religious, um, activity, and....:

The definition of the word “bris” is intrinsically religious in nature, and this Court may not entertain a lawsuit that will require it to evaluate the veracity of [insert name of cult] representations that its MBP rituals meet any such religious standard.

Posted by: dh | January 31, 2013 at 07:47 PM

I think you had one drink to much. The case regarding hebrew national was that they were falsely claiming that their product was "kosher." The court ruled that since Kashrut is controversial, it was incapable of ruling. (I doubt it would've ruled the same way if, say, the issue would have been pork.) However, NYC does not care if MBP is part of the "bris" or not. It says that it is dangerous and freedom of religion doesn't mean you can do whatever you want: it means you can practice religion as long as you don't infringe on anybody else's rights.

Just because a food has been declared kosher does not necessarily make it healthy. Last time I checked a Hebrew National hot dog package, the hot dogs contained sodium nitrite, a chemical that is a that cancer causing agent. Eating too much meat can contribute to your getting prostate cancer. Gefilte fish typically has lots of salt and lots of sugar.

If you make it to Medicare age, chances are good that many of your friends and older relatives will have had prostate cancer and/or heart surgery by then. Don't become a statistic yourself. At the rate Medicare is spending money, it is slated to run out of funds by 2024.

Courts in the US are reluctant to get involved in religious issues, whether the subject is kosher food or religious education. That is also why the Haredi are able to get away with turning out so many functional illiterates in New York State, some of whom post on this web site in poor English.

Anti-agenda, yeah, really. That's why they don't call it the "lucid hour."

But don't they both share points of law having to do with the court's jurisdiction over religious interpretation. MBP is religious interpretation. Kosher is religious interpretation. The court won't touch kosher. But so far, the court won't not touch MBP or interpret what a bris is.

Doesn't it sort of make sense?

LAC, I'm guessing about 12 judgment by the sense of humor in my earlier post...

dh, seems to me there could be an obvious connection between what mohels do in performing MBP and frankfurters, but I can't post it because LAC the schoolmarm is watching....

Chicken, turkey [fowl] is biblically NOT considered meat. The rabbis said it was meat and needed to be shechk.

Posted by: Isa | January 31, 2013 at 07:01 PM

So true. I believe the requirement to shect birds was introduced about 1000 years ago.

Similarly, the requirement that wine be specifically kosher. This was a late Halachic "innovation" as well.

Before that, you could drink proper wine, not the sweet alcoholic syrup that much kosher "wine" is these days. (Although there now is a lot of good kosher "proper" wine like the Teal Lake range from Australia to name just one).

BTW, with regard to supervision of kosher wine production, do you have any idea how bizarre the non-Jews regard issues such as only the Jews be allowed to turn valves etc. during the manufacture of the product? Oh well, people, Jew or Gentile will do anything if paid enough.

'And in the eyes of the Gentiles, it again makes us look foolish.',

really??

Unsurprising outcome - case dismissed with prejudice (meaning the plaintiffs can't re-file) as being out of the court's jurisdiction b/c this is a religious matter. One wonders if it wasn't it really another outfit, like the OU (but presumably not Star-K or O-K, which filed an amicus brief supporting dismissal of the case), that was behind this whole sham suit in the first place, aiming to try to muscle in on triangle-k for this piece of hashgacha work. Talk about slander - google "conagra" and "kosher" and you now get a bunch of results saying "hebrew national not kosher". Apparently, when it comes to lashon hara, business is business.

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