Plaintiffs Oppose Red Lobster’s Motion to Dismiss Over “Misleading” Sustainability Claims

On Monday, Dezzi Marshall and the proposed class filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss against Red Lobster Management LLC and Red Lobster Hospitality LLC in the Central District of California. The defendants allegedly misled consumers by lying about the extent of their “Sustainability Representations,” to which they responded that the plaintiffs are just “dissatisfied” with the extent of their efforts.

In the first amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that gets its seafood products by “using environmentally destructive methods with no special regard for animal welfare.” Furthermore, they claimed that Red Lobster “intentionally continued to source from its Maine lobster suppliers even after it learned that these suppliers were found to be in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and had their sustainability certification revoked.” Thus, the plaintiffs found Red Lobster’s advertising to be misleading.

The plaintiffs argued that reasonable customers are likely to be deceived by Red Lobster’s marketing as they claim their menu items are “sustainable” and “responsible” despite their suppliers being in violation of the ESA. Thus, plaintiff Marshall believed that she is not making “unreasonable leaps in logic” when she assumes that Red Lobster is sourcing with “with higher environmental and animal-welfare standards.”

While the defendants argue that their menus direct patrons to their website “for more information,” on sustainability, the plaintiffs claimed that this is unreasonable, referencing case law stating that cvustomers “should[n’t] be expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box;” the plaintiffs should not be expected to go to a website to clarify information on the menu.

Marshall, as the class representative, asserted that they have adequate standing to pursue punitive damages and claims under the Unfair Competition law, and urged the Court to deny Red Lobster’s motion to dismiss.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Matthew Strugar and Richman Law & Policy. The defendants are represented by Baker & Hostetler.