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Found 12 results

  1. Celiac.com 06/17/2019 - A federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit filed by a boy with celiac disease against a Colonial Williamsburg restaurant. The court ruled that a jury should decide whether the restaurant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when they barred a boy from bringing his gluten-free meal into the Shields Tavern. The lawsuit lists the boy's name as J.D. Because J.D. has celiac disease and follows a strict gluten-free diet, he couldn't eat with his classmates on their May 11, 2017, field trip. The staff at the Shields Tavern told J.D. that they could make a gluten-free meal for him, but they could not allow him to eat his own food in the tavern, which is owned and operated by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. J.D. had had problems before with gluten-free restaurant meals that were not, in fact, gluten-free. Since he hadn't eaten at Shields Tavern before, he declined their offer to make him a gluten-free meal. Because of Shields Tavern rules against outside food, J.D. was forced to eat a homemade meal apart from his friends and teachers. J.D. may have facts on his side. A recent study shows that most gluten-free restaurant food contains gluten. J.D.'s father chose to sue the foundation, arguing it violated the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Virginians with Disabilities Act. The initial lawsuit was dismissed before trial by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, who held that J.D. did not show that he suffered discrimination because of his disability. In a 2-1 ruling that reinstated J.D.'s lawsuit, Judge Albert Diaz, writing for the majority, noted that Shields Tavern has high gluten-free meal standards that may be okay for most people with celiac disease, and a jury might decide they are good enough. But, added Diaz, “The district court incorrectly overlooked the testimony that J.D. repeatedly became sick after eating purportedly gluten-free meals prepared by commercial kitchens. Until a jury resolves the disputes surrounding the nature and extent of J.D.’s disability, we cannot determine if the accommodation Shields Tavern offered, as good as it may be, fully accounted for his disability.” Read more at Richmond.com
  2. Celiac.com 01/04/2016 - Does P.F. Chang's Asian Bistro discriminate against people with celiac disease by charging more for gluten-free dishes than for their non-gluten-free counterparts? A complaint filed in federal court says it does, and a ruling by a federal judge means that the lawsuit against P.F. Chang's over its gluten-free menu won't be dismissed just yet. That means a class action lawsuit against P.F. Chang's for allegedly charging more for gluten-free menu items can continue. Judge Ronald Whyte's Nov. 23 order denied the company's motion to dismiss plaintiff Anna Marie Phillips' first amended complaint. "Neither party has cited, and the court has not found, any case specifically discussing whether celiac disease constitutes a disability under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or Unruh Act," Whyte wrote in his 13-page ruling. "However, accepting the additional detail in the FAC (first amended complaint) about the consequences of ingesting or being exposed to gluten, which plaintiff must guard against, plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to support her claim that she has a disability that impacts a major life activity. "The court notes that on a more complete factual record, the court might reach a different conclusion." Phillips sued P.F. Chang's in a California state court last December. Chang's then successfully moved the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Basically, the outcome of the move to dismiss hinges on whether or not celiac disease constitutes a disability under the state's Unruh Act. In his order last month, Whyte concluded that Phillips, in her new complaint, pled sufficient facts to claim that the immune reaction to eating gluten meets the definition of a "medical condition" under the state's Unruh Act for people with celiac disease. The law specifically outlaws discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, marital status or sexual orientation. In her amended complaint, Phillips also claims that celiac disease is an "inheritable and hence genetic characteristic." P.F. Chang's argues that the plaintiff must allege that she actually inherited characteristics known to cause disease under the second prong of the "medical condition" definition. At stake in the lawsuit is whether or not P.F. Chang's, and, by extension, other restaurants can charge more money for gluten-free food than they do for similar, non-gluten-free menu items. The restaurant chain first moved to dismiss Phillips' class action in February, claiming her celiac disease does not make her a disabled person under the ADA. It urged Whyte to dismiss the lawsuit before the entire restaurant industry was impacted. Whyte heard oral arguments in May. According to the case's docket, the motion to dismiss was "tentatively granted" at the hearing, with a final ruling to be issued by the court later. In August, the judge granted P.F. Chang's motion to dismiss Phillips' original complaint. Whyte ruled that the plaintiff failed to allege facts showing that the restaurant chain discriminated against her and other guests with celiac disease or a gluten allergy/intolerance, by charging $1 more for some gluten-free menu items compared to non-gluten-free versions of menu items with a similar name but prepared and handled much differently. However, Whyte granted Phillips a leave to amend. In doing so, the judge expressed his "reservations" about whether the plaintiff could ever state a viable claim under her discrimination theory. Phillips filed her first amended complaint soon after. In September, P.F. Chang's filed a motion to dismiss the new complaint, arguing that it asserts the same disability-discrimination claims and offers "few additional facts" and "none that warrant a different result." But a detailed list of Phillips' symptoms and reactions when ingesting gluten forced the judge to change his mind. As to whether or not the lawsuit will gain traction, stay tuned.
  3. Celiac.com 03/14/2018 - A trademark spat that had developed into a lawsuit between an American gluten intolerance group and a well known British chef has been resolved. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently found himself on the receiving end of a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG), which had sued Oliver for allegedly infringing its trademark, a circle with the letters gluten-free. GIG claimed in the suit that a similar symbol used by Oliver was “likely to mislead consumers into thinking his recipes are certified gluten-free.” For reasons still unknown, the group recently asked a Washington federal court to dismiss the suit. GIG’s request would free Oliver and his Jamie Oliver Enterprises Ltd., from all claims in the suit alleging infringement of the circle with the letters gluten-free that GIG uses to certify products as gluten-free. Barring some unforeseen development, the judge in the suit is likely to grant the motion, and the whole episode will be water under the gluten-free bridge, so to speak.
  4. Celiac.com 02/09/2018 - A newlywed couple have raised accusations of sick guests, inappropriate food, and breach of contract in filing suit against wedding vendors they say ruined their surprise vegan wedding, which was also to include gluten-free snacks for some guests. The wedding took place in May, 2017, and by Christmas, the family had already filed suit in Ramsey County against vendors Mintahoe, Inc., A'Bulae, LLC, and Bellagala for breach of contract. The lawsuit states the venue choice near Mears Park in downtown St. Paul was "absolutely contingent" on their commitment to provide a "delicious" vegan dinner to wedding guests. According to the couple, the main idea was to serve delicious food that guests would not suspect was "an entirely plant-based meal." The couple intended for the surprise to be revealed at the end of the night, when servers were to put out signs announcing that the entire meal had been vegan. Among the claims made by the family of the bride and groom are that a guest with celiac disease ate a seitan skewer that she believed was gluten-free, but which actually contained gluten, and that the guest became "very ill" as a result. The couple says the hotel's pastry chef took home the leftover vegan wedding cake the couple had ordered from an off-site vendor, instead of making sure it went to the wedding party. The couple's complaints go on to cite a litany of perceived offenses, including "horrific" food and service, "missing" bamboo shoots bean sprouts, too many carrots, and "horrific…sickeningly sweet," sauce that was not the peanut sauce they expected. The couple also complains that the groom's room before the wedding was "extremely hot and stifling," and disputes the cost of the menu for the wedding, which was mostly Thai food. In fairness, though, their main complaint seems to be that the food was terrible, rather than the fact that it wasn't vegan. The couple and mother-of-the-bride are seeking $21,721 for each of the seven counts of breach of contract, totaling $152,047, along with an award of damages to be determined at trial. What do you make of the situation? Right on the money, or a gluten-free bridge too far? Source: KTSP
  5. Celiac.com 10/11/2017 - A Merrill Lynch broker in Denver has sued the firm in federal court, claiming that its systemic "sabotage" of his relationship with clients during and following two medical leaves have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a case filed this summer in federal court in Colorado, Kirk Kringel, a broker with Merrill since 2010, alleges that the company violated his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act by retaliating against him for taking the two medical leaves, including one that was related to celiac disease. A seasoned broker, Mr. Kringel worked previously with Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter for nearly 15 years before joining Merrill Lynch. According to the complaint, colleagues and managers at Merrill "systematically interfered with and sabotaged Kringel's relationships with his clients by failing to service some of his clients, permanently re-assigning some of his clients to other financial advisors, and providing misinformation to his clients that undermined his relationships." Kringel claims that the sabotage cost him annual income in excess of $250,000, and that the actions were taken deliberately as retaliation for Kringel's three-month leave in 2015 and an unpaid medical leave that he began in February 2017. Kringel alleges in the suit that the losses to his accounts were engineered by a former business partner and colleague who moved with him to Merrill, and is claiming that the alleged violation of federal FMLA law justifies a courtroom trial. If successful, he will avoid arbitration, which would be the standard course for such complaints. Merrill Lynch spokesman Bill Halldin disputed the allegations on behalf of the company, but offered no comment on whether it will seek to have the complaint moved to arbitration. Neither Kringel, nor his lawyers at the firm of Moye, White offered further comment. Stay tuned for more on Mr. Kringel's efforts, and on legal issues regarding celiac disease and employment, disability, and the like. Read more at Advisorhub.com
  6. Celiac.com 11/15/2016 - The YouTube video that helped to spark litigation against blood pressure drug Olmesartan, also marketed as Benicar, was made by celiac disease expert Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, who is very familiar with the drug's side effects. In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to patients and doctors that the popular blood pressure medication Benicar had been linked to a severe side effect called sprue-like enteropathy. The side effect was easily confused with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, and caused serious problems in many patients, including cases of irreparable gut damage. A week after the FDA's warning, Dr. Joseph Murray took to YouTube to notify patients about the drug's risks. In the video, Dr. Murray advises anyone who is taking Benicar, and who has also been diagnosed with celiac disease, to consult a doctor about the FDA warning. Many Benicar patients learned the hard way the drug can cause debilitating side effects, but Dr. Murray's video no doubt helped spread awareness to patients who suffer from sprue-like enteropathy. Many patients feel Benicar's manufacturer, Daiichi Sankyo, failed to warn consumers of the risks associated with the drug and are now trying to hold the company responsible through legal action. There are more than 1,700 lawsuits currently pending against the company. Plaintiffs have called into question the validity of the clinical trial leading to Benicar's approval with the FDA. Managing high blood pressure is a long-term proposition, but the clinical trial testing Benicar's safety and efficacy only lasted three months. Plaintiffs believe the short clinical trial caused the makers to overlook the risk of sprue-like enteropathy, but plaintiffs are also pointing to the fact that drug maker Daiichi Sankyo spent $1 billion on Benicar advertising between 2002 and 2008. The plaintiffs say that company advertising focused more on the benefits of Benicar, while downplaying potential risks. The suit has been slate for court docket in 2017. Stay tuned for developments on this and related matters.
  7. Celiac.com 5/23/2016 - Plenty of people have followed the news of the woman who sued Chinese food chain P.F. Chang's, claiming that they discriminated against her by charging more for gluten-free dishes than for other non-gluten-free options. Celiac.com covered P.F. Chang's efforts to have the suit dismissed, and also P.F. Chang's failure to prevent the woman from modifying the lawsuit, thus keeping it viable, if only for a time. U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte, of the Northern District of California, had dismissed the original complaint in August, but reinstated the suit once plaintiff Anna Marie Phillips amended her complaint. On Nov. 23, 2015, Whyte ruled that Phillips had sufficiently pleaded her claims in that amended complaint. Many in the restaurant industry were watching the suit carefully since it was first filed in December 2014, as the claim of discrimination, based on higher charges for gluten-free items at P.F. Chang's, could have serious repercussions for the industry as a whole. Phillips has now asked the judge to dismiss her lawsuit. At least for now, the question to whether surcharges or higher charges for gluten-free food options constitute some form of discrimination against those with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, remains un-litigated. The position of the Department of Justice is that celiac disease is not a disability in every case, and that there are plenty of cases in which it is not a disability. Read more at Legal News Line.
  8. Celiac.com 02/26/2016 - Consumer complaints to the FDA fueled a class action lawsuit claiming that cereal maker General Mills mislabeled gluten contaminated Cheerios as "gluten-free." The recent suit was brought by a Kentucky woman, who alleges that she purchased two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios labeled as gluten-free, but which actually contained gluten levels more than two times higher than allowed under FDA standards. The consumer complaints led to FDA testing on gluten-free Cheerios. The FDA tested 36 samples of gluten-free Cheerios taken from different manufacturing facilities and lots. The tests found that some "Gluten Free" Cheerios samples contained as much as 43 ppm gluten. Current FDA rules forbid the use of the statement "gluten-free" on any food product with gluten levels above 20 parts per million. General Mills issued a recall on Oct. 5., and the suit was filed in late 2015 in a California federal court, and charges violations of California and Kentucky consumer protection laws. The suit alleges that supposedly gluten-free oats were cross contaminated with ordinary wheat at one of General Mills' processing facilities. Stay tuned for more news on this and other developments on gluten-free labeling and celiac disability claims. Read more at Legalnewsline.com.
  9. Celiac.com 06/27/2016 - With her gluten-free bakery "Jennifer's Way" facing a $43 million lawsuit from investors, including her own husband, British model Louis Dowler, former "Blue Bloods" star Jennifer Esposito has reportedly skipped town for an "undetermined amount of time" in Denmark. Esposito's investment partners filed their suit in March, alledging, among other things, that Esposito's bakery is failing, and that she redirected the company's website to her personal blog and told consumers the products couldn't be trusted. "Esposito has instilled and promoted a groundless and downright false sense of fear that the very same products with the same recipes, coming from the same facility, that she once stood behind, are now unsafe to consume," the lawsuit reads. Esposito was previously married to actor Bradley Cooper and engaged two more times before she married Dowler in 2014. In addition to the suit, she is now also in the process of divorcing Dowler, who is, as noted above, one of the investment partners who brought the suit against her. Esposito made headlines in 2012, when she was put on indefinite leave from the CBS show "Blue Bloods" after informing the network of her celiac disease diagnosis. According to Esposito's tweets: "CBS. . . PUT me on unpaid leave and has blocked me from working anywhere else after my doc said u needed a reduced schedule due to celiac." According to a statement by CBS, "Jennifer has informed us that she is only available to work on a very limited part-time schedule. As a result, she's unable to perform the demands of her role and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence . . . We hope that she will be able to return at some point in the future." Read more at Fox News.
  10. I am a nursing student, and my children attend preschool. The preschool uses the college's dining facility to cater all of their meals. I spent time providing a training for the community college's dining facility staff on allergens, cross-contamination, and understanding the importance of strict avoidance for allergic individuals or in celiac disease. There are a number of small children with celiac disease, allergies, and intolerances, whose parents are required to pay the same amount, but do not receive meals, and must send food to school with their children, because the dining facility cannot accommodate. Of course, our family is one of them. My daughter must be gluten and dairy free, while my son is only gluten free. I know that this is somehow illegal, wrong, or unethical, but don't know what steps should be taken. The school claims no responsibility, and will not budge on the payment system to adjust the price for children unable to participate in the meals. The dining facility has claimed for many months that they are working on being able to accommodate, but it was recently revealed that they are actually working on a letter from their attorney to force parents to sign a "release of liability waiver" before serving the allergic children. When I provided the training 4 months ago, all of the staff displayed decent levels of understanding and interest. What can I do to rectify this situation? Who needs to be informed, or who can help "encourage" (force is okay as well, as long as my family doesn't have to get involved in a lawsuit) the preschool to provide an adjusted cost to these families? If the dining facility is requiring a waiver, I am not confident in their ability to prepare, nor determination/dedication to provide "safe" food. (albeit, I understand why) I am the person who initiated the chain of events, and have been pushing everyone along the way to be able to provide "safe" meals for the children, but at this point, I am fed up with everyone involved, particularly the preschool, because they seem to want nothing to do with the situation, and are making me deal directly with their vendor. Advice please?!?! I don't want to ruin our relationship with the preschool, because the teachers are wonderful and my kids really enjoy it there... but for the sake of my family and many other current and future families... I don't want to just look the other way!
  11. Celiac.com 06/08/2007 - On May 30th, federal judge Elaine E. Bucklo dismissed key parts of a lawsuit against McDonalds regarding the gluten-free status of their famous French fries. The case, In Re McDonalds French Fries Litigation (MDL-1784), was brought in February 2006, by two Florida plaintiffs on behalf of their autistic daughter who allegedly suffered ill effects from eating McDonalds French fries. At the time, the company claimed that the French fries were gluten-free. The lawsuit claimed in part that McDonalds "failure to disclose the fact that their French fries contained gluten constitutes deceptive, unfair, unconscionable, misleading and fraudulent trade practices," and that "McDonalds unfairly and unjustly profited from their conduct. The judge dismissed claims of fraud, breach of implied warranty, and a request for injunctive relief, but left intact two counts, breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment. In its arguments for dismissal, McDonalds claimed that most of the plaintiffs legal causes of action were barred as a matter of law. Basically, McDonalds asserted that the plaintiffs pled themselves out of court by arguing facts that undermined their own claim. The plaintiffs fraud allegations were rejected because they failed to meet the specificity required under the federal rules. McDonalds argued that the plaintiffs claim of fraud and misrepresentation failed to state how, when, or where the alleged misrepresentations took place. Federal Rule 9( of Civil Procedure requires that all claims of fraud be stated with particularity; otherwise, they face dismissal. Judge Bucklo rejected the plaintiffs claim for injunctive relief because she found there was no threat of future wrongful conduct. The company revised its web site in 2006 to show that its fries and hash browns contain gluten. Also, the publicity brought by the suit arguably eliminated any need for injunctive relief. The plaintiffs have 28 days to amend their complaint or the lawsuit will go forward based on the two remaining counts. health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com.
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