Defending Act 120 - due to come into force in July 2016 - against a lawsuit recently filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) et al will be costly, according to a ‘motion to intervene’ in the case filed by CFS and VPIRG on Monday.
Vermont has serious financial concerns regarding the cost of this litigation
The motion cites the applicants' expertise in GE labeling and Vermont's apparent lack of resources to mount an adequate defense.
“First, Vermont has serious financial concerns regarding the cost of this litigation, an important factor that courts recognize in assessing whether the state's representation may be inadequate,” they note in a memorandum accompanying the application.
It is “wholly uncertain how much money will be voluntarily donated to the State to help with its defense”, notes the application, which claims that defending the law could cost between $1m and $5m, but that as of June 9, just $15,000 had been donated to the defense fund.
Second, notes the application, the “significant financial disparity [between the state and the GMA et al] and uncertainty [created by protracted and costly legislation] may make settlement more appealing for the State.”
Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG, added: "VPIRG will do whatever we can to defend the GMO labeling law from corporate bullies who would rather keep consumers in the dark about what’s in their food.”
It just gives us the opportunity to play a larger role
Laura Murphy, associate director of the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, told FoodNavigator-USA that CFS/VPIRG are not seeking to duplicate efforts, but simply offering to pool resources and expertise.