BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – A Massachusetts consumer claims that she would not have purchased Hershey chocolate products or paid as much for them if Hershey had disclosed alleged child and slave labor in the production of its chocolate.
Danell Tomasella filed a complaint on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated on Feb. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against The Hershey Co. and Hershey Chocolate & Confectionary Corp. alleging violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and unjust enrichment.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants allow child and slave labor in its cocoa bean supply chain.
"Although Hershey’s corporate business principles and supplier code prohibit both child and slave labor, Hershey is aware that cocoa beans from West Africa are produced using child labor, including the worst forms of child labor as recognized by the United Nations: the compulsory labor of trafficked children and the labor of children involving dangerous tools, transport of heavy loads, and exposure to toxic substances, i.e., hazardous work," the suit states.
The plaintiff alleges the defendants do not disclose at the point of sale that its chocolate products have this type of labor in the supply chain. She also alleges that the defendants are "not able to trace all of the cocoa beans that make up its chocolate products back to the cocoa plantations on which they are grown, much less ensure that the cocoa beans are not the product of child or slave labor," the suit states.
The plaintiff holds The Hershey Co. and Hershey Chocolate & Confectionary Corp. responsible because the defendants have not required all of its suppliers to remedy the wrongful business practice, and prevented consumers from making fully informed decisions about the kind of products to purchase.
The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks judgment against defendants, appoint plaintiff as class representatives and their counsel as class counsel, award appropriate damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, interest, other further and different relief as the nature of the case may require.
She is represented by Hannah W. Brennan of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Steve W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP in Seattle, Washington; and Elaine T. Byszewski of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP in Pasadena, California.
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts case number 1:18-cv-10360