Court Applies Safe Harbor Doctrine To CA Transparency in Supply Chains Act

I first wrote about the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act more than four years ago.  See California To Require Website Disclosure Regarding Efforts To Eradicate Slavery And Human Trafficking.  At the time, I noted that "The Act provides that the exclusive remedy for a violation is a suit for injunctive relief brought by the California Attorney General."  Cal. Civ. Code § 1714.43(d).  This has not deterred some plaintiffs' lawyers from trying to turn the Transparency in Supply Chains Act into a litigation goldmine.

In Barber v. Nestlé USA, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170608 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2015), three individuals sued the maker of "fancy feast" for violations of the California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., the California Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, et seq., and the California False Advertising Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500, et seq.  The plaintiffs alleged that Nestlé is obligated to inform consumers that some proportion of its cat food products may include seafood which was sourced from forced labor.

Judge Cormac J. Carney, however, granted Nestlé's motion to dismiss on the basis of the "safe harbor doctrine" under which "'safe harbors' are created from liability under the UCL when 'the Legislature has permitted certain conduct or considered a situation and concluded no action should lie'".  Judge Carney noted that the Transparency in Supply Chains Act specifically codifies the level of required disclosure.