Consumer Law

Buying a General Mills product eliminates the right to sue, according to online legal terms


General Mills is requiring arbitration of legal disputes in a policy that got tougher after an adverse ruling and a newspaper inquiry.

In language “quietly added” to its website, General Mills said anyone who prints a digital coupon for its products, participates in its contests, or simply joins its online community has given up the right to sue, the New York Times reports.

After a Times inquiry, the company went further, saying any dispute arising from the purchase of a General Mills product will be resolved through informal negotiations, binding arbitration or, in limited circumstances, small-claims court. The online legal terms are here.

GM made the initial changes after a California judge refused on March 26 to dismiss a case contending the company engaged in deceptive marketing when it labeled its Nature Valley products as “natural.”

Last year, the Times says, the company paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits over labeling of its Yoplait Yoplus yogurt, saying it didn’t agree with the plaintiffs’ claims but it wanted to end the litigation. And in December 2012 the company agreed to remove the word “strawberry” from packaging of Fruit Roll-Ups that didn’t contain strawberries.

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