Ninth Circuit Tosses Animal Rights Consumer Case For Lack Of Standing


by John M. Simpson, Duane Morris Animal Law Practice Blog

March 31, 2021


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought under the California Unfair Competition Law by Friends of Animals and two other advocacy groups challenging the “100% natural” language in the advertising of the defendant poultry producer.  Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., No. 19-16696 (9th Cir. Mar. 31, 2021).  The appellate court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs had failed to prove organizational standing.


Plaintiffs sought to establish the “injury in fact” component of standing by alleging that the organizations had devoted additional time and resources to counteract the defendant’s alleged misrepresentations or that they had been required to divert resources away from “watchdog work” to respond to defendant’s advertising.  As the court noted, however, “[o]rganizations divert resources when they alter[] their resource allocation to combat the challenged practices, but not when they go about their business as usual.”  Slip op. at 6 (cleaned up).


After extensive discovery into the allegedly diverted resources, the district court determined, and the Ninth Circuit agreed, that this case fell into the “business as usual” category…


Plaintiffs tried to salvage their UCL claim on the ground...