Read My Latest Article: Using Online Tools to Assess Consumer Perceptions of Class-Action Food Litigation

How may researchers assess consumers’ perceptions of class-action lawsuits? And what are the implications of those perceptions?

Those simple questions lie at the heart of my latest law-review article, published this week. The short article, Using Online Tools to Assess Consumer Perceptions of Class-Action Food Litigation, appears in the prestigious Loyola Consumer Law Review, the only law journal dedicated solely to examining legal issues that pertain to consumers.

The piece, the lead article in the new symposium issue of the law review, takes a novel approach to understanding consumer perceptions of class-action litigation, an area of great importance and timeliness and one in which a dearth of research currently exists. In the article, I introduce an approach to using online tools—including everything from social media apps such Facebook and Twitter to message boards—to assess how consumers perceive class-action litigation. Specifically, the article focuses on the mushrooming area of class-action litigation pertaining to food (which I dub the “food class action,” or “FCA” for short). Examples I discuss in the article include the famed Subway “footlong” lawsuit and suits targeting candy maker Wrigley, brewer Pabst, and soft-serve ice cream giant Dairy Queen.

Here’s an excerpt:

Online tools allow consumers to share their perceptions of FCAs and, more generally, of class-action litigation. As this Article describes, such perceptions pertain to many of the key issues in such litigation, from their merits to the state of the American judicial system…. As calls for class-action reforms grow, those who establish and amend rules for; study; and participate in such litigation—among them policymakers, judges, attorneys, and scholars, respectively—should consider the perceptions and wishes of consumers to help inform the basis, shape, and parameters of any such reforms.

Publication of this article follows my appearance as an invited panelist at the Loyola Consumer Law Review’s annual symposium last year. Read the complete article here. To read more of my selected writings, click here.

Fall Writing Updates

Were you thinking just now that an update on my recent writings is past due? You’re correct. It turns out that updates of that sort are about the only thing I haven’t been writing of late.

  • The best (and most popular) of my recent Reason columns focuses on sales of food via the Facebook Marketplace. For the column, I bravely purchased and ate some spectacular homemade tamales that I tracked down using the social network.

  • My latest article for the New Food Economy, published last month, explores how the Trump administration is quietly advancing many of the Obama administration’s food policies.

  • This afternoon, I sent off final edits to my forthcoming Loyola Consumer Law Review article on how social-media tools can help us to assess consumer perceptions of class-action food litigation. The article follows my appearance as an invited panelist at the law review's spring symposium.

I have some other news that’s not yet ripe for sharing. For now, I’ll say only that it involves a manner of writing that rhymes with “diction.”

Summer Writing Updates

This week marks the end of a busy few weeks of writing. In addition to my regular Reason columns (including a recent one opposing Pres. Trump's outrageous food tariffs and another on state preemption of local food-and-beverage taxes), I've also got a piece on the USDA's proposed GMO-labeling regulations that will appear in an upcoming issue of the print magazine. In addition, Creators Syndicate recently ran an editorial that was centered on a column I'd written on Congress's consideration of the Farm Bill.

Last week, in my latest piece for the New Food Economy, I discussed how the Texas state health department has unreasonably and illegally misinterpreted the state's cottage food law to ban most types of pickles in the state. The article led to other media mentions, including an appearance this week on Texas Public Radio.

Yesterday, I turned in to the editors of the Loyola Consumer Law Review an article I'd been working on for several months that focuses on assessing consumer perceptions of class-action food litigation. The article, which follows my appearance as an invited panelist at the law review's spring symposium, is set to be published by the law review in the fall.

As always, stay tuned here for more news. And make sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest timely updates on my work.


My New Law-Review Article Tackles Federal, State, & Local Foraging Regulations

I'm thrilled to share news that my latest law-journal article is now available online. The article, Food Law Gone Wild: The Law of Foraging, is the first-ever law-review article to focus on foraging, which I define in the article as "the harvest of foods which are not cultivated by man but that grow spontaneously in the wild, regardless of whether the 'wild' is an urban, suburban, rural, or wilderness area." It's also the first comprehensive look at National Park Service regulations, state foraging laws, and municipal foraging rules.

The article appears in the new issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. I wrote the article in conjunction with my appearance last fall as a panelist at the law review's annual Cooper-Walsh Colloquium.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

[L]aws at all levels of government in America increasingly target foragers. In a few cases, these restrictions are smart policy. But many foraging rules at the federal, state, and local level are wrongheaded and draconian. In recent years, for example, an elderly Illinois man was fined for picking dandelion greens in a Chicago-area park. Another forager was fined for picking edible berries in a suburban Washington, D.C. park.

Laws pertaining to foraging reflect the ongoing tension between dueling policy goals. On the one hand, many people wish to protect and defend public and private ecosystems. On the other hand, many people long to spend time in nature and enjoy the fruits of those aforementioned ecosystems. Despite the growing number of regulatory issues pertaining to foraging, legal and other social science scholarship on this issue is virtually nonexistent.8 This lack of guidance is particularly problematic because foraging is increasingly popular and because federal, state, and local foraging rules vary wildly, and often conflict.

This Article seeks to address and eradicate this scholarly deficit. Part I provides a narrow definition of foraging, discusses American foraging demographics and the growing popularity of foraging, and describes the benefits of foraging and some potential risks. Part II provides a brief history of foraging traditions in the United States and discusses the factors behind the development of America’s anti- foraging laws. Part III provides a detailed look at current federal, state, and local anti-foraging laws in the United States, with a special focus on select state and local rules, regulations at all fifty-nine National Park Service National Park units, and caselaw. Part IV assesses the impacts of foraging rules and proposes foraging rules that cities, states, and the federal government should adopt. The Article concludes that the ancient and valued practice of foraging deserves legal primacy that protects both foragers and the lands upon which they choose to forage.

Read the entire article here

This is my second law-review article to be published this spring. My article on the field of Food Law & Policy, co-authored with Emily Broad Leib, was published recently by the Journal of Food Law & Policy. My other recent publications include an op-ed on federal regulation of animal slaughter and local food in The Hill and an op-ed in the Orange County Register on the U.S. Supreme Court's potential hearing of an appeal of California's foie gras ban.

My Latest Law-Review Article Explores Growth in Field of Food Law & Policy

I’m excited to report that my latest law-journal article has just been published in the Journal of Food Law & Policy (housed at the University of Arkansas Law School). In the article, which I co-authored with Harvard Law School’s Emily Broad Leib, we conclude that the legal field of Food Law & Policy has matured into a vital and vibrant field in the legal academy.

The article, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, updates a seminal 2014 Wisconsin Law Review article on the field, Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field’s Origins and First Decade, by me and Broad Leib. That article was the first to detail the fascinating origins and explosive growth of the field from its beginnings in the mid-2000s. In the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article, we present fresh data on the steady growth of the field since publication of our Wisconsin Law Review article.

Using the same ten criteria we developed to measure the growth of Food Law & Policy for the earlier article, the Journal of Food Law & Policy piece measures and details the field’s growth since that time. The field’s continued growth—along with its firm footing within the legal academy—is one of the new article’s key findings.

For example, in the 2014 article we determined that 20 of the top-100 law schools had offered Food Law & Policy courses. The new article identifies 34 such schools that have offered courses—including, in some cases, multiple course offerings. That’s a seventy-percent increase in just four years.

The new article also reveals several other equally compelling data points. For example, the 2014 article identified one dedicated Food Law & Policy clinic at a law school (led by Broad Leib), along with thirty clinics at twenty-three laws schools that had pursued one or more Food Law & Policy projects. The new article shows that four schools now boast dedicated Food Law & Policy clinics, and that nearly six-dozen clinics at four-dozen law schools have now worked on one or more Food Law & Policy projects.

Finally, while the 2014 article identified seven (of ten) areas of a legal field that Food Law & Policy had occupied, the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article demonstrates that Food Law & Policy now meets all ten such criteria. That's exciting growth for a legal field, particularly over a period of just a few short years.

For legal nerds only, here’s the cite: Emily Broad Leib & Baylen J. Linnekin, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, 13 J. Food L. & Pol’y 228 (2018).