(Updated with impending Denver Lawsuit)
Two mothers in St. Louis have filed a class action lawsuit against Aurora Organic Dairy (AOD), claiming that the milk they consumed from the nation's largest private-label organic dairy company was not organic, according to Sustainable Food News ($).
Leonie Lloyd and Kristine Mothershead claim they suffered harm by being “tricked” into buying Aurora's private label organic milk at Costco that was not organic. The plaintiffs, represented by the St. Louis law firm Simon Passanante, are seeking compensatory, consequential and punitive damages. The suit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting AOD from engaging in “illegal activities.”
In April, the USDA's National Organic Program sent a letter to Aurora, citing 14 "willful violations" of the organic regulations by the company. In a subsequent settlement of those allegations, Aurora, which has $100 million in sales, agreed to amend its farming practices and stop selling certain milk. It was allowed to keep its organic certification.
AOD's Senior Vice President Clark Driftmier told Sustainable Food News he had not seen the lawsuit and that the company had not been served.
Meanwhile, the Cornucopia Institute reported late in the day that the St. Louis action is one of two lawsuits.
Law firms based in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri have so far have filed one of the lawsuits in Missouri, with another suit, covering dozens of additional states where plaintiffs live, due to be filed in Denver tomorrow. The attorneys are seeking damages from Aurora to reimburse consumers harmed by the company’s actions and are requesting that the U.S. District Courts put an injunction in place to halt the ongoing sale of Aurora’s organic milk in the nation’s grocery stores until it can be demonstrated that the company is complying with federal organic regulations.
Cornucopia says the Denver suit is being handled by attorneys from Lane, Alton, Horst in Columbus, Ohio; Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freeman, and Herz in Chicago; and Gray, Ritter, and Graham, also based in St. Louis. Attorneys in both suits are seeking additional plaintiffs.