Two Class-Action Lawsuits Claim Premium Turkey Producer Misleads Consumers
Suits claim public pays more for Diestel's commercially raised 'family farm' gobblers
Nov 23, 2020, 12:18 ET
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Two newly filed proposed class-action lawsuits accuse a Sonora, California, company of misleading the public about the origins and growing conditions of its "thoughtfully raised" premium turkeys.
According to complaints filed in California and New Mexico federal courts by Robert Donovan of Arcata, California, and Cynthia Wetzel of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Diestel Turkey Ranch has marketed its 25 different turkey products as being range-grown from the pastures of the family farm in central California.
However, the cases allege that the main source of Diestel's turkey output comes from offsite facilities with poultry barns housing as many as 17,000 birds each. In addition, other turkey parts are purchased from commercial suppliers and then repackaged as Diestel products, the lawsuits contend. The company's turkeys are shipped to the Sonora location only for slaughtering and processing, while some products are not even sent there, according to the plaintiffs.
Because of Diestel's misrepresentations, "consumers paid more for Diestel Turkey Products and suffer harm in the form of paying a higher price" than they would have paid had they known that Diestel turkeys were raised at agro-industrial facilities.
This premium pricing can result in a Diestel turkey costing as much as $9.99 per pound at retailers such as Whole Foods and Amazon, while other commercially raised birds sell for as little as $0.59 per pound.
Contrary to representations in Diestel's online and print advertising, the company uses antibiotics and other chemicals, purchases the most common commercial turkey breed, slaughters the birds at approximately the same time as the rest of the industry, and employs as many as 300 workers, only six of which are Diestel family members, the lawsuits allege.
"For more than 70 years, this company has fostered an image of humane treatment and sustainability, while in fact it follows the same practices as any other large-scale commercial supplier," says Timothy L Sifers in the Kansas City office of the Potts Law Firm, attorney for the plaintiffs in each case. "While our claims only seek damages for purchases since the fall of 2016, we're still talking about hundreds of thousands of affected consumers plus millions of dollars in profits that are built on a lie."
"Diestel dupes conscientious consumers into supporting exactly the type of operation that those consumers are trying to avoid," says Gretchen Elsner of Elsner Law and Policy in Santa Fe, also counsel to the plaintiffs. "Consumers have less than a 1 percent chance of purchasing a turkey that lived the life that Diestel promises."
The lawsuits seek class certification based on violations of each state's consumer protection laws, false advertising, fraud and intentional misrepresentation, among other claims. Both request an order enjoining the defendant from "unfair competition alleged here and to correct its advertising, promotion, and marketing campaigns."
The cases are Wetzel et al v. Diestel Turkey Ranch, No. 20-cv-1213, filed in U.S. District Court for New Mexico in Albuquerque and Donovan et al v. Diestel Turkey Ranch, No. 4:20-cv-07125, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
SOURCE Potts Law Firm
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