For Immediate Release:
March 8, 2022
Robin Goist 202-483-7382
Warren, Mich. – Lifetime local resident Nicholas Usler is a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Vital Farms Inc.—a case in which PETA Foundation lawyers and co-counsel just won a precedent-setting victory when a motion to dismiss the suit was rejected by the court. Usler and fellow consumers allege they were misled into buying the company’s eggs at a premium price because of its false claims that it treats hens ethically and humanely.
The lawsuit indicates that Usler regularly purchased the Texas-based company’s eggs because he believed that Vital Farms provided hens with “freedom from undue pain and distress.” He would not have agreed to the company’s high prices—which are up to seven times higher than the price of ordinary store-bought eggs—had he known “the truth about Vital’s practices.” A Texas federal court judge has now found that Usler and the other plaintiffs raised valid legal claims when alleging that Vital Farms knowingly makes deceptive assertions about hens’ humane treatment.
Despite its claims, the company does the following:
- Obtains hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth and burn or cut off hens’ highly sensitive beaks to prevent fighting among stressed, severely crowded, confined birds
- Claims that birds are in “pastures” when many spend most or all of their time indoors
- Sends birds to slaughterhouses when they become less profitable
“Nicholas Usler was deliberately misled into believing that Vital Farms treats animals with respect, when it sends them to slaughter and purchases from hatcheries that grind chicks up alive,” says PETA Foundation Director of Litigation Asher Smith. “PETA is working to ensure that this case puts a stop to and punishes dishonest marketing tactics that betray kind consumers.”
The nine plaintiffs—including individuals from New York City; Los Angeles and Marina del Rey, California; Crosby, Texas; and Cooper City, Florida—are also represented by Richard L. Stone of Blackner Stone & Associates and Jesse Weiss of Edmundson Shelton Weiss PLLC.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.