Hearing set in Hebrew National lawsuit

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit charging that Hebrew National hot dogs are not “100% kosher,” as widely advertised over the years, will be heard July 31 in Dakota County District Court — where the lawsuit was originally filed in 2012.

The defendant, ConAgra Foods, Inc., the parent company of Hebrew National, had the case moved to federal court, which dismissed the lawsuit. Then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled April 4 that the district court erred in dismissing the case with prejudice, and sent the matter back to the state court (4-11-14 AJW).

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case — Wallace, et al. v. ConAgra Foods Inc. — argue that the companies contracted to do kosher slaughtering for Hebrew National employed quotas to determine the percentage of kosher meat being passed through leased facilities at slaughterhouses in the Midwest, and engaged in various slipshod practices that rendered the meat not kosher.

Last month, ConAgra Foods filed a motion in the Dakota County court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended complaint. The plaintiffs will contest that motion in a hearing that will take place July 31 at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings.

The motion to dismiss argues that the court lacks jurisdiction in the case, which involves a determination about the laws of kashrut, Jewish dietary laws. Courts are barred from deciding such religious issues by the First Amendment, according to the defendant’s memorandum supporting the motion.

ConAgra also contends that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue, because no plaintiff “will ever be able to prove that the product he or she got was not exactly what he or she says was promised.” In other words, none of the plaintiffs can prove that they purchased a product that was “tainted by non-kosher beef.”

ConAgra’s motion to dismiss was filed by Corey L. Gordon, of the Blackwell Burke law firm in Minneapolis.

Hart L. Robinovitch, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the AJW that a response to the ConAgra motion will be filed this week. Robinovitch works in the Scottsdale, Ariz., office of the Minneapolis-based Zimmerman Reed law firm.

The American Jewish World broke the story of the Hebrew National lawsuit in June 2012.

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