Costco Shrimp Lawsuit Dismissed Because Plaintiff Didn’t Buy Affected Shrimp At Costco

Disgusted at reports that some shrimp sold in the United States may have been caught by people working under slavery-like conditions, a woman in California filed a class-action lawsuit against Costco, the store where she purchased her shrimp. The problem: Costco, as a members-only warehouse, knows exactly what she has purchased, and says she didn’t actually buy any of the affected shrimp.

The lawsuit claimed that the plaintiff and her mother purchased prawns that came from two specific suppliers based in Thailand. Disturbing recent news reports have exposed the treatment of workers in the seafood industry in that country, who are recruited from poorer Asian countries and forced to work long hours under slavery-like conditions. Those workers don’t catch shrimp: they catch fish that are in turn fed to farmed shrimp.

The problem is that there’s no proof that the lead plaintiff bought any affected seafood. She may have, but Costco’s records for her account and for her mother’s don’t show that she purchased that shrimp.

“One of Costco’s buyers attests that based on item numbers and descriptions, the prawns purchased by Jacobo were sourced from Vietnam and Indonesia, not Thailand,” the court notes.

The case has been dismissed, but if the attorneys can find a different plaintiff who actually purchased Thai farmed shrimp from those suppliers, it can continue.

Order on motions to dismiss[PDF] (via Courthouse News)