Federal Judge Rejects Red Lobster’s Attempt to Dismiss Sustainability Lawsuit

Red Lobster faces a setback as a federal judge denies its motion to dismiss a class-action fraud lawsuit alleging the sale of misrepresented seafood. Dezzi Rae Marshall, a Californian, filed the lawsuit, accusing Red Lobster of exaggerating the sustainability of its Maine lobster and farmed shrimp. Marshall, who is a client of Richman Law and Policy, argues that the company's sourcing procedures do not adhere to strict environmental standards.

U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt ruled that Marshall's evidence supporting claims of unsustainable practices by Red Lobster was substantial enough to allow the lawsuit to proceed. The complaint asserts that the restaurant chain's shrimp originates from farms in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and China, engaging in environmentally harmful practices and antibiotic overuse. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch advises against choosing shrimp from these regions for sustainability reasons.

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Moreover, the lawsuit criticizes Red Lobster's lobster sourcing from Maine, alleging environmentally damaging practices that endanger North American right whales. The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery's violation of the Endangered Species Act led to the Marine Stewardship Council suspending its certification, a fact highlighted in the judge's decision.

Kronstadt emphasized the suitability of the plaintiff's evidence, stating that it showed inconsistencies between Red Lobster's sustainability claims and actual practices. The court's decision marks a hurdle for Red Lobster in addressing allegations related to the environmental impact of its seafood sourcing, allowing the class-action lawsuit to proceed.