March 2014

Hormel Foods Defeats Breach of Contract Claims

Our firm served as lead trial counsel for the defendant Hormel Foods in obtaining a defense verdict. The plaintiffs filed suit against Hormel for alleged breach of a 2008 oral contract between the parties for continued purchases of Canadian-born hogs after legislation implementing mandatory “country of origin labeling” (COOL) for pork became effective. Because of the legislation, pigs born in Canada but produced in the U.S. required a separate label from swine raised exclusively in the U.S. The plaintiffs alleged that post-COOL, Hormel unilaterally changed the pricing and terms for delivery of Canadian-born hogs. Prior to trial, the Court granted Hormel’s motion for summary judgment as to several of the plaintiffs’ claims (993 F. Supp. 2d 960), leaving only the alleged express contract claim for trial. Following a five-day, chess clock-managed trial, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Hormel, rejecting the plaintiffs’ contract claims. Jay Clasing, et al., v. Hormel Foods Corp., No. C 12 3054 MWB (N.D. Iowa 2014).

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