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.


I'm Quoted in Great N.Y. Times Front-Page Piece on Regulations Impacting Small Apple Farmers

Earlier this week, the front page of the New York Times featured a thoughtful, well-researched article on ways that many regulations impact smaller food producers. That topic is at the heart of much of my research and writing, including my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable.

The great Times piece, by staff investigative reporter Steve Eder, focuses specifically on rules impacting small apple growers. It also quotes me at length. Here's a snip:

“So many of the farmers I’ve spoken with tell me that stricter and stricter regulations have put many of their neighbors and friends out of business, and in doing so cost them their homes, land and livelihoods,” said Baylen Linnekin, a libertarian-leaning expert in food law and policy, in an email. “For many farmers, rolling back regulations is the only way they can survive.”


Mr. Linnekin, the food lawyer and author of “Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable,” predicted the new requirements would not lead to significant improvements in food safety.

“Instead, the result will likely be more of what we’ve experienced over the past few decades as regulations have ratcheted up,” he said. “More of our fruits and vegetables will be grown by large domestic producers who can afford to comply with the regulations — at the expense of smaller competitors — and by produce farmers abroad.”

I encourage you to click through and read the whole article. It's a balanced, refreshing look by the mainstream media at the issue of overregulation of food production and sales at a time when many politicians in Washington, D.C. at least claim to be taking a hard look at the problem.

In case you're long on time and short on things to read as the calendar turns to 2018, this week also saw publication of my latest op-ed, this one a look at a multi-state lawsuit against California over the latter's ban on some out-of-state eggs, which appears in the Orange County Register and several other leading Southern California newspapers.

Food Safety News Gives 'Biting the Hands that Feed Us' Thumbs Up

Food Safety News, the leading U.S. food-safety website, founded by Seattle food-safety litigator extraordinaire Bill Marler, has a nice writeup on me and my book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us. Here's an excerpt from the piece, written by Food Safety News editor Dan Flynn:

In the book, Linnekin can be blunt. He says FDA rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act “threaten to treat small farmers like manure and to treat manure–the lifeblood of organic fertilization and sustainable farming–as a toxin.”

Linnekin looks at how FDA threatened the livelihoods of “artisanal cheesemakers and beer brewers of all sizes” and barred people “from using sustainable methods to grow, raise, produce, prepare, sell and buy a variety of foods.”

As you may have guessed, “sustainability” is the prime directive for Linnekin. It’s on my list words in danger of becoming meaningless for its overuse by the lazy, but Professor Linnekin is precise in his choice of words. For Linnekin, whether a rule or regulation is helping or hurting sustainability is a crucial metric for measuring its effectiveness.

Linnekin does not blow off food safety. He says some rules are “necessary and desirable,” but he does question “blind faith” in rule makers.

Though Food Safety News (a website Flynn notes I've previously contributed to) generally speaks out in favor of more stringent regulations than I support--Marler, who I quote in Biting the Hands that Feed Us, does the same--it's clear from Flynn's words that he respects the measured approach I take in the book. Flynn is careful to note that Food Safety News doesn't "do" book reviews. If they did, though, he's also clear he'd recommend reading Biting the Hands that Feed Us.

"I’d say it a fascinating read, but that would sound like a book review," Flynn concludes.

Quite a good non-book-review review of my book, I'd say! If you haven't picked up the "fascinating read" that's currently Amazon's #1 Best-Selling book in the Environmental & Natural Resources Law category, what are you waiting for?