I thought this symposium on raw milk Sunday sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (described in my previous post) would be a tame affair. But food poison lawyer Bill Marler has signaled he’s coming with machine guns blazing. He posted his PowerPoint presentation planned for Sunday on his blog (click on the blue page below the introductory text to launch the PowerPoint presentation), and three slides in particular suggest he has trained his legal guns on the Weston A. Price Foundation.
After running through a tutorial on the legalities of liability for raw milk illnesses (comparative fault, liability waivers, etc.) slide 13 is headed, “Trade Association Liability” and says, “The crux of trade association liability is whether consumers rely on the association’s information and expertise.”
The next slide, #14, is headed, “The ‘Price’ of Weston A. Price’s Prominence” and a copy of the foundation’s Real Milk page is shown.
Just for good measure, slide #15 argues that cow share agreements (promoted by the foundation) “seek to avoid bans on unlicensed sale of raw milk” and are “not a valid interpretation of many states’ licensing requirements.” Pouring more oil on the fire, slide #16 recaps the “case just finished” in which two Marler clients sued Organic Pastures Dairy Co.
Marler has apparently taken offense previously about suggestions on the Weston A. Price Foundation’s site that raw milk is healthy for children. Now he seems to be suggesting the foundation can be potentially held liable for illnesses to children under “trade association liability.”
Guess I have two immediate questions: Is this a new front in the FDA/CDC/state ag agency political war on raw milk? In other words, “trade association liability” becomes a new front in the war to put a lid on the raw dairy supply that includes harassing dairy farmers with phantom findings of listeria, intimidating them with bogus search warrants, and breaking up buying clubs.
Or is this a potential new cash flow opportunity for Marler? The raw dairy farmers he goes after often don’t have very deep pockets, and there may or may not be lucrative product liability insurance policies from retailers. So go after a fast-growing foundation, and the Constitutional guarantee of free speech.
There should generate some interesting discussion at the Sunday symposium.