MDL Sought for Lawsuits over Grated Parmesan Cheese

With a growing number of product liability lawsuits being filed throughout the federal court system over problems with grated Parmesan cheese found to contain wood pulp and other fillers, a group of plaintiffs have filed a request to centralize the cases before one judge as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. 

Grated Parmesan cheese lawsuits have been filed against Wal-Mart, Kraft and other manufacturers in recent months, and a motion to transfer (PDF) was filed last month with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, seeking consolidate the cases for coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings.

The cases stem from a recent FDA investigation into the use of wood pulp and other fillers in grated Parmesan cheese products sold to major food chains, with some brands found to contain no Parmesan cheese at all.

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The president of Castle Cheese, Michelle Myrter, plead guilty to charges that her company mislabeled grated Parmesan and Romano cheese in late February, as well as the companies Slippery Rock and Universal Cheese and Drying. She could face up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Products Castle Cheese sold to Target under the Market Pantry brand, labeled as 100% Parmesan Cheese, actually contained no Parmesan at all, the FDA found. And neither did its Best Choice or Always Save brands, which were sold to 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. They contained other cheeses, such as Swiss and mozzarella, and cellulose, a form of wood pulp used as filler.

High amounts of cellulose were also found in brands sold at Wal-Mart and other chain stores.

Since the story broke, at least 14 separate lawsuits have been filed in six different states against Wal-Mart, Kraft and other defendants who made or sold the cheese. The lawsuits indicate that the manufacturers misrepresented the true content of their products and provided false and misleading representations on the labels.

Plaintiffs call for the formation of an MDL for all lawsuits over the grated Parmesan cheese to reduce duplicate discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, parties and the Courts.

The motion, filed by eight different plaintiffs, calls for the lawsuits to be transferred to the Eastern District of Missouri, indicating that all of the cases remain in the earliest stages of litigation.

“None of the Defendants have responded to any of the complaints, no discovery requests have been served, and none of the courts have made any rulings on any legal or factual issues,” the motion states. “No one has expended significant resources litigating in any jurisdiction and no one will be prejudiced by transfer of their cases at this time.”

If the cases are consolidated before one judge, they will be transferred from U.S. District Courts throughout the country for coordinated management. However, if settlements or another resolution is not reached during the pretrial proceedings, each case may ultimately be remanded back to the courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates in the future.

1 Comments

  • PatApril 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Ate this everyday. Had cancer a few years back. Hope it isn't related to this.

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