BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – A Massachusetts woman alleges a food conglomerate fails to disclose that child labor is involved in the cocoa beans it uses in its products.
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 Mars Inc. and Mars Chocolate North America LLC citing the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and unjust enrichment.
According to the complaint, the defendants' chocolate products are made from cocoa beans from West Africa. The plaintiff alleges she has purchased the products from 2014 to the present.
"Although Mars’ corporate business principles and supplier code prohibit both child and slave labor, Mars 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 that Mars "is presently 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.
"Plaintiff would not have purchased the chocolate products or paid as much for them had Mars disclosed the truth about the child and slave labor in the supply chain. Plaintiff Tomasella seeks damages, restitution and injunctive relief requiring Mars to cease its deceptive marketing," the suit states.
The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks judgment against defendants; award plaintiff and the class all appropriate damages including trebling; attorneys’ fees; costs; interest; and further relief as may be determined to be just.
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, Washiginton; 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-10359