By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
A lawsuit alleging that Hebrew National hot dogs were not made from “100% kosher beef” as advertised has come to an end.
The plaintiffs in the suit, which was first filed in June 2012, have not appealed the Oct. 6 decision by the Dakota County District Court, which granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“It would be unholy, indeed, for this or any other court to substitute its judgment on this purely religious question,” Judge Jerome B. Abrams wrote in the introduction to his 43-page ruling (10-10-14 AJW).
On July 31, Abrams heard arguments on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the defendant, ConAgra Foods, Inc., the parent company of Hebrew National. The 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit (Melvin Wallace, et al. v ConAgra Foods) contested the motion.
“No court in the land can pick a side, interpretation or point of view as to whether those religious requirements are met or unmet in these circumstances,” Abrams stated, regarding the legal wrangle over kashrut, Jewish dietary laws. He noted that ConAgra Foods relied on a “qualified religious observer,” Triangle K, to certify Hebrew National products as kosher.
The plaintiffs had argued that they had paid a premium price for a product that was falsely advertised as being kosher; but various slipshod production methods, and a quota system for passing through a specified percentage of beef as being kosher, resulted in hot dogs that were not completely kosher.
The lawsuit was filed in the Minnesota state court, in Dakota County, then moved to the federal court at the request of ConAgra. A federal court judge dismissed the lawsuit early in 2013. In April, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the state court.
The American Jewish World broke the story of the lawsuit targeting Hebrew National, which was reported around the world.
Failed Messiah, a locally run Web site that reports on Orthodox Jewish affairs, editorialized that the lawsuit was “clearly misguided” and “was pushed by Orthodox former employees [of AER Services, Inc., the company doing the kosher slaughter for Hebrew National] who appear to have misrepresented how [halacha] works to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who then proceeded with the extremely flawed lawsuit, which they have now, finally, lost.”
Hart Robinovitch, a partner in the Minneapolis-based Zimmerman Reed law firm, in the Scottsdale, Ariz., office, was the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
ConAgra Foods was represented by Corey Gordon, who is with the Blackwell Burke law firm in Minneapolis.
(American Jewish World, 12.19.14)