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27 Jan 2017

Sebastien Malo, Reuters (USA)

US judge dismisses Costco lawsuit over prawns allegedly derived from forced labour in Thailand

"Retail giant Costco wins dismissal of prawn lawsuit over Thai forced labor", 25 Jan 2017

A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. had knowingly sold frozen prawns, the farming of which involved forced labor in Thailand.  Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish that the world's second largest retail chain was bound to inform customers that modern-day slavery could be part of its supply chain.  The lawsuit, filed in 2015, claimed U.S.-headquartered Costco was aware the prawns it bought from its Southeast Asian producers came from a supply chain dependent on ships involved in human trafficking and labor abuses..."[P]laintiffs fail to allege (Costco) had a duty to disclose the information about labor abuses in the supply chain ... on its product packaging," he added...Exporter C.P. Food...and its parent company...were also named as defendants...Sud along with fellow Costco customers alleged that Costco purchased farmed prawns, also known in the industry as shrimp, from the Southeast Asian seafood producers despite knowing they used ships manned by slave laborers...[I]n dismissing the lawsuit, the judge said the plaintiffs could not trace the prawns they bought to the suppliers in question.  Judge White dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning that it cannot be brought again...