Hagens Berman: Class Action Filed against Nestlé for Slave Labor, Human Trafficking Used to Produce Top-Selling Pet Food

Lawsuit alleges Nestlé knowingly supports human rights violations,
hides it from public

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A nationwide class of pet food purchasers today filed a lawsuit
against Nestlé
SA (VTX:NESN) alleging that the pet food manufacturer
knowingly supports a system of slave labor and human trafficking to
produce its Fancy Feast cat food, while hiding its involvement with
human rights violations from the public, according to attorneys at
Hagens Berman.

The lawsuit alleges that Nestlé works with a Thai partner, Thai Union
Frozen Products PCL, to import more than 28 million pounds of
seafood-based pet food for top brands sold in America – some ingredients
of which were obtained through slave labor.

Individuals who have purchased Fancy Feast cat food may contact Hagens
Berman by emailing petfood@hbsslaw.com
or by calling 206-623-7292. Find out more about the class-action
lawsuit against Nestlé

Often trafficked from Thailand’s poorer neighbors such as Cambodia and
Burma, men and boys are sold to fishing boat captains needing crews to
man their fishing boats, according to the complaint. The work is
dangerous and exhausting with shifts lasting up to 20 hours a day with
little or no pay, with refusal or failure to work to a supervisor’s
satisfaction resulting in beatings or even death.

“By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked
millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on
floating prisons,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.
“It’s a fact that the thousands of purchasers of its top-selling pet
food products would not have bought this brand had they known the truth
– that hundreds of individuals are enslaved, beaten or even murdered in
the production of its pet food.”

The 29-page
filed on Aug. 27, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the
Central District of California alleges that Thai Union oversees
canneries, “mothership” fishing vessels, and smaller fishing boats. This
structured pyramid of fishing fleets ensures that individual fishing
boats operate at great distance from any port, without oversight.
Deckhands operating Thai Union’s fishing boats work as modern day
slaves, according to a recent New York Times article, “Sea
Slaves: The Human Misery that Feeds Pets and Livestock.”

The nationwide class action seeks to deliver reimbursement to consumers
who would not have purchased these products had they been aware of these
human rights violations, and also seeks injunctive relief requiring
Nestlé to end its deceptive marketing.

The suit accuses Nestlé of violating the California Unfair Competition
Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and False Advertising Law.

“Instead of true employment, men and boys are sold as slaves by brokers
and smugglers to fishing captains in Thai ports in need of labor. Once
sold, these men and boys (hereafter ‘Sea Slaves’) enter a modern form of
indentured servitude where they are required to work to pay off the
price the captains paid to purchase them,” the complaint states. “These
Sea Slaves are frequently resold to other fishing boats while out at
sea, often at higher prices than their price at port. As a result, Sea
Slaves are involuntarily forced into longer and longer periods of
servitude as their debt grows and the price of their freedom becomes
ever more elusive.”

The complaint also states that despite protection of human rights listed
as one of Nestlé’s Corporate Business Principals, the pet food giant has
failed to live up to its own ideals. According to the suit, the Bureau
of International Labor Affairs of the United States Department of Labor
confirms that fish and shrimp from Thailand are likely the product of
forced labor.

“Nestlé had the resources to combat this and could have – should have –
chosen not to support these egregious human rights violations,” Berman
said. “Nestlé has failed to uphold its responsibility to ensure the
absence of slave labor in its supply chains – and even worse, Nestlé not
only supported these human rights violations, but forced consumers to
unknowingly do the same.”

Hagens Berman has been a pioneer in consumer rights litigation, as well
as lawsuits filed to ensure human rights for groups of people around the

Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law
firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the
National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the
law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.
Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.


Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
Ashley Klann, 206-268-9363