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Dana v. Hershey Co.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

March 29, 2016, Decided; March 29, 2016, Filed

Case No. 15-cv-04453-JCS

Opinion

 [*654]  ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

Re: Dkt. No. 22

I. INTRODUCTION

"The use of child slave labor in the Ivory Coast is a humanitarian tragedy." Doe I v. Nestle USA, Inc., 766 F.3d 1013, 1016 (9th Cir. 2014). The fact that major international corporations source ingredients for their products from supply chains involving slavery and the worst forms of child labor raises significant ethical questions. The issue before [**2]  this Court, however, is whether California law requires corporations to inform customers of that fact on their product packaging and point of sale advertising. Every court to consider the issue has held that it does not. This Court agrees.

This is a putative class action in which Plaintiff Laura Dana claims that Defendants The Hershey Company and Hershey Chocolate & Confectionary Corporation (collectively, "Hershey") violated California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL," Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200-17210), Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA," Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750-1784), and False Advertising Law ("FAL," Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17500-17509) by failing to disclose on the packaging of Hershey's chocolate products that some of the cocoa used therein originated at farms in Côte d'Ivoire (also known as the Ivory Coast) that use slave labor and the worst forms of  [*655]  child labor. Hershey moves to dismiss all claims. The Court held a hearing on March 18, 2016.1 For the reasons stated below, Hershey's Motion is GRANTED, and this action is dismissed with prejudice.2

II. BACKGROUND

A. Allegations of the Complaint3

Côte d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer of cocoa beans, the raw ingredient for chocolate, and supplies 40% of global cocoa production and 47% of total imports to the United States. Compl. (dkt. 1) ¶¶ 19, 46. Slave labor and the worst forms of child labor are common in Ivorian cocoa production, as is well documented by United States government agencies, academic studies, nonprofit organizations, investigative journalists, and former laborers. Id. ¶¶ 5-8, 23-25, 32-42. Children are frequently injured in the course of dangerous work involving machetes, chemicals, and heavy loads, and workers (both children and adults) may be beaten, whipped, and locked in to prevent escape. Id. ¶¶ 23-25. The Ninth Circuit has also acknowledged the existence of such conditions. Id. ¶ 26; Doe I, 766 F.3d at 1016.

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180 F. Supp. 3d 652 *; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41594 **; 2016 WL 1213915

LAURA DANA, Plaintiff, v. THE HERSHEY COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

Subsequent History: Affirmed by Dana v. Hershey Co., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18723 (9th Cir. Cal., July 10, 2018)

Prior History: Barber v. Nestlé USA, Inc., 154 F. Supp. 3d 954, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170608 (C.D. Cal., Dec. 9, 2015)

CORE TERMS

chain, consumer, omissions, chocolate, misrepresentations, unfair, labels, disclosure, fraudulent, misleading, prong, slave, advertising, harbor, cocoa, safe, customers, manufacturer, packaging, immoral, worst, slavery, Reply, disseminated, warranty, deceive, partial, bought, unethical

Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Heightened Pleading Requirements, Fraud Claims, Responses, Motions to Dismiss, Preliminary Considerations, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Justiciability, Standing, Injury in Fact, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Elements, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, False Advertising, State Regulation, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices