Class Action Lawsuit Against Hebrew National / ConAgra Thrown Out
"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."
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.
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.
Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint by Defendant ConAgra Foods, Inc. (Doc. No. ) is GRANTED.
2. Plaintiffs’ First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. No. ) 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: