A federal judge in Texas ruled that Whole Foods had been improperly added as a defendant in a lawsuit by parents who tried to hold the grocer responsible for selling allegedly toxic Hain Celestial baby food.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown denied Sarah and Grant Palmquist’s request to send the case back to state court, and in light of that dismissal, ruled that Whole Foods’ motion to dismiss the claims against it was moot. Judge Brown said that Whole Foods did not fall under an exception to the general rule that retailers can’t be held liable for harm caused by products they sell under the Texas Products Liability Act.
The Palmquists invoked three of the seven exceptions to that rule in trying to get the case back in state district court. The couple argued that Whole Foods can be held liable because it participated in product design, made “express factual representations” about the product that were inaccurate, and had actual knowledge of the defect that caused their son’s injury. The Palmquists allege that the baby food caused their son’s permanent neurological impairment.
Judge Brown addressed each alleged exception in turn, first writing that the Palmquists had presented no evidence that Whole Foods designed, produced, marketed or distributed the baby food at issue.
The Palmquists fed their son Hain’s “Earth’s Best Organic” baby food from his birth until he was about three years old.
In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted an investigation that revealed Hain’s products were tainted with high levels of toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. The Palmquists fed their son Hain’s “Earth’s Best Organic” baby food from his birth until he was about three years old and alleged that it caused their baby’s neurological impairment.