Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pepperoni Pizza and Jelly Beans Lawsuits

I was raised never to tolerate disrespect in small things or large. I was taught to get what you pay for. I was instructed never to think that someone is doing me a favor by taking my money. I learned that if I ordered X to make sure I got X, not Y.

I would have a bigger problem with my parents than anyone else if I meekly accepted shoddy treatment or crappy goods from a business. And I wasn't the only one. Just recently I watched as an elderly irate profane gentleman explained to a local grocery story clerk that the store had sold him a rotten onion. And even though he had to make a 10 mile round trip he wasn't going to let anyone sell him a rotten f***** onion and get away with it, by God. 

So I appreciate an assertive customer. However the proper resolution of a problem with a store is usually for the business to apologize, refund your money, or give you the good or service you initially purchased, perhaps at a discounted price or for free. I'm not sure that the wronged customer needs to file a $100 million lawsuit.
A Muslim man is suing Little Caesars for $100 million after he says he was served and then accidentally ate pepperoni made with pork, a food prohibited by Islamic law. The complaint says Mohamad Bazzi of Dearborn ordered halal pizza twice from the shop on Schaefer in Dearborn. The boxes were labeled "halal," but the pies inside were topped with regular pepperoni. 

Majed Moughni, Bazzi's attorney, said he rushed to file the lawsuit Thursday, the eve of Ramadan, so no other Muslims would accidentally eat pork from the pizza shop during the holiday. "It's really upsetting," Moughni said. "My clients want the public to know. Especially during Ramadan, it would be a travesty if Muslims ... in Dearborn bought pizza from Little Caesars and discovered they were eating pork."
He added that for a Muslim, consuming pork is "one of the worst sins you can do." 

A spokeswoman for Little Caesars did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, says the first incident happened March 20. Bazzi and his wife were midway through eating a pizza he had brought home from the shop when they realized it had pork pepperoni.

Bazzi knew it was pork because he used to work in a pizza place and knows the different types of pepperoni, Moughni said. He also said Bazzi's wife could tell because she is a Catholic convert to Islam who grew up eating pork.They "became sick to their stomach," according to the lawsuit. Three days later, they filed a police report. The second incident happened May 24, the day before the lawsuit was filed. When Bazzi confronted the shop manager, according to the lawsuit, she told him at one point that Bazzi had asked an employee to put a halal sticker on the pizza box, a claim Moughni disputes. Bazzi secretly recorded the conversation.

Sorry but accidentally consuming religiously forbidden food is not the world's worst sin. I can think of many worse sins. And I write that as someone who grew up with religious dietary strictures. I support any individual or any minority group standing on principle and refusing to eat certain foods or engage in certain activities. I've been there. But there is a big difference between someone forcing you to violate your morals and beliefs (which actually might be worth a multi-million dollar lawsuit) and someone who accidentally gets your order wrong. I don't believe that Bazzi was halfway through eating a pizza before he realized hmm this has pork. Pepperoni and ground beef have quite distinctive odors and appearances. Filing a police report for a mistaken order??? If I were the judge I'd order Little Caesars to give Mr. Bazzi the cost of the pizzas plus $50 and call it a day.

Not to be outdone one Jessica Gomez of California is suing the candy company named Jelly Belly for having sugar in its product "Sports Beans". I don't think I would buy anything edible from a company named Jelly Belly and be astonished that it had sugar included but we all have different levels of gullibility.
A California woman claims that the candy company Jelly Belly tricked her into buying its Sport Beans, a candy that doubles as a diet supplement to “fuel” the body and help burn fat, which had more sugar than she thought.
Jessica Gomez, of San Bernardino County, filed a class-action lawsuit against the jelly bean company in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in February. She claims that the company attempted to mask how much sugar was in its Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans by labeling sugar as “evaporated cane juice” on the list of ingredients, Forbes magazine reported.

“The term ‘evaporated cane juice’ is false or misleading because it suggests that the sweetener is ‘juice’ or is made from ‘juice’ and does not reveal that its basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar,” an attorney representing Gomez wrote in a letter to the company. In an April motion to dismiss the case, attorneys for Jelly Belly said, “This is nonsense,” according to the San Francisco Gate.

“No reasonable consumer could have been deceived by Sports Beans’ labeling,” the motion read. “Gomez could not have seen ‘evaporated cane juice’ without also seeing the product’s sugar content on its Nutrition Facts panel.”

While it may seem shortsighted to assume that a jelly bean does not contain sugar, Gomez’s lawsuit does point to a larger issue on food labels. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, said in a 2014 blog post that “evaporated cane juice is the food industry’s latest attempt to convince you that ... it is natural and healthy, better for you than table sugar and much better for you than high fructose corn syrup.”
It doesn't appear that the Sports Beans product was ever marketed as being sugar-free. And it apparently had its sugar content listed on the panel. If you aren't supposed to drink alcohol but purchase hard apple cider or shouldn't have caffeine and get yourself an energy drink is that the fault of the company who makes those products? I agree that we all need to be careful about what we put into our bodies. And there is a place for government to ensure that companies are transparent about what's in the food they sell to us. No one sane wants to go back to the times depicted in  The Jungle
However I don't think there should be a class action suit because someone doesn't know that evaporated cane juice is sugar. Both of these cases are ridiculous. The larger problem is that corporations and their paid legislative lackeys will try to use silly cases such as these to limit access to the courts and damages for violations where citizens were truly and deeply harmed. That's more concerning to me than greedy people going after targets with deep pockets. Hopefully judges will do the right thing here.

What's your take?

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