Legal Dispute Says Duck/Goose Delicacy Can Again Be Sold in California

During this pandemic our courts are solving many important and life-changing problems for businesses and people.  …And then there’s this one.

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled recently in Los Angeles that the sale of foie gras, (pronounced fwah grah), a delicacy food made of the liver of a duck or goose, doesn’t violate the law if the seller is located outside of California and the product is brought into the state by a third-party delivery service. This decision won’t put foie gras on the menus of California restaurants, but it does give consumers access to out of state suppliers. Continued litigation should resolve whether California restaurants can again sell foie gras, said Ken Frank, owner of La Toque in Napa.

The ruling comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by farms that raise the engorged geese and ducks for the luxury pâté. That sent the issue back to the lower court. Since January 2019, New York state and Canadian producers had pursued their case. According to the Associated Press, they argued that they had lost a third of their sales because of the ban.

The Animal Protection and Rescue League, a San Diego-based group that advocated for the ban, has maintained that the force-feeding of the birds is a cruel practice. Attorney Bryan Pease called the decision a “last-ditch effort” by Hudson Valley Foie Gras to get around an earlier Ninth Circuit ruling about the feeding practice. “In the meantime,” he said, “New York City has passed a similar ban, and we hope other cities and states will do so as well.”

The issue of whether foie gras can be produced and/or sold in California has been simmering in courts for years.  (Yes for years—and kudos to us for NOT making a “simmering” joke right here).  

La Toque’s Chef Frank hailed Tuesday’s decision, saying, “The Bastille Day ruling was a welcome step forward in restoring the freedom to decide what you want to eat in California. The judge ruled that Californians are free to order foie gras from out of state and have it shipped here to enjoy as they wish.

“With this ruling, foie gras is clearly no longer ‘banned’ in California, which lays bare the stupidity of the law. The next step will be returning foie gras to restaurant menus and retail stores, and we’re working on that.”

So it looks like California won’t be playing “duck, duck, goose” with the supply of foie gras any longer. And in case you haven’t noticed, legal disputes are EVERYWHERE.  When those things are served onto your plate (by life) and THREATEN your business including landlord/tenant matters, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in the “good guy business litigator” Dean Sperling who will resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind! 

More on the case: