While similar lawsuits have been tossed on the grounds that reasonable consumers would not expect products labeled as natural to contain zero pesticide residues, Illinois-based judge Charles Ronald Norgle raised legal eyebrows last month after throwing out the Quaker case on the grounds of federal pre-emption.
In a case like this, argued Norgle, plaintiffs can’t sue under state law, an argument one leading food law attorney told us was “flatly wrong.”
In court documents filed Tuesday, the Richman Law Group (representing the plaintiffs) said it was inclined to agree, and asked the seventh circuit court of appeals to look again at the decision.
So what happens now?
First, explained one legal source, the plaintiff/appellant will get an opening brief, to which Quaker will respond. The plaintiff/appellant will then get a reply brief, in a process which could take anything from three to 12 months, depending on whether the parties go into mediation (they can still settle a case while it’s on appeal).
About 10 to 18 months after the briefing is complete, there will be oral arguments, with a final decision coming two weeks to six months later.
Quaker has not commented publicly on the case, but there is a possibility it might consider settling, despite its initial victory in the lower court, given that there are such compelling grounds for a reversal, speculated one legal source.
“If I was them I’d settle the case, keep this decision intact and get out of Dodge… They would have to write a check, but that’s a good time to settle a case, when you’re a winner.”
Read more about the lawsuit HERE.
*The case is Gibson v. Quaker Oats Co. 1:16—cv-04853 in the northern district of Illinois.