Courtney Lawrence is a member of the firm’s food litigation and regulatory practice, which is nationally ranked by Chambers USA. Her specialized yet diverse practice includes litigation, regulatory, commercial and transactional matters for food and agriculture industry clients of all sizes, from e-commerce startups to industry-leading Fortune 100 companies.
Courtney has worked on teams representing food manufacturers, distributors and retailers and agriculture industry clients in litigation arising from recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks, consumer fraud class actions, and commercial and supply chain disputes. She is experienced in all stages of litigation, from analyzing key substantive and procedural issues at the outset of a lawsuit to developing an effective litigation strategy, to assisting at trial in state and federal court, to appellate briefing. Representative litigation matters include:
- Part of national teams defending Fortune 500 food companies and retailers in consumer fraud class action cases challenging various aspects of product labeling
- National counsel team member for frozen fruit and vegetable manufacturer, defending putative class action, lawsuits and claims following 2016 Listeria monocytogenes-related recall
- National counsel team member for ice cream manufacturer, defending lawsuits and claims following 2015 Listeria monocytogenes-related recall
- National counsel team member for ground turkey producer, defending lawsuits and claims following 2011 Salmonella-related recall
- American Home Assur. Co. v. Greater Omaha Packing Co., Inc., (D. Nebraska, September 29, 2014). Defense team obtained $9 million jury verdict in favor of client Cargill following three-week trial arising from supplier's breach of contract and warranties in connection with 2007 sale of beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Defense team obtained summary judgment as to supplier's $16.3 million counterclaim, asserting interference with contractual relationships, arising out of 2009 New York Times article (2014 WL 1344487). Affirmed on appeal. (2016 WL 1319414, --F.3d-- (8th Cir. Apr. 5, 2016)).
- Clasing et al v. Hormel Foods Corporation, (N.D. Iowa, March 14, 2014). Defense team obtained defense verdict in favor of client Hormel Foods following order on summary judgment materially limiting plaintiffs' claims (993 F.Supp.2d 960).
- IronPlanet, Inc. v. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (America), Inc., (Iowa District Court, February 4, 2013). Defense team obtained $2.5 million jury verdict (including $1.5 million in punitive damages) in favor of client IronPlanet following nine-day jury trial. Affirmed as modified to $1.3 million on appeal (2014 WL 7343212).
Courtney provides practical, day-to-day advice to food, dietary supplement and consumer product industry clients on regulatory compliance issues, helping clients evaluate risks and implement solutions consistent with their business goals. In particular, Courtney specializes in counseling food and dietary supplement industry clients on labeling and marketing review and substantiation, regulatory compliance, and risk management with respect to consumer and competitor actions. Other representative regulatory services include:
- Counsels food and dietary supplement companies on managing foodborne illness outbreaks, recalls, inspections and regulatory enforcement actions by FDA and USDA.
- Conducts brand-wide labeling audits for food and dietary supplement companies.
- Assists e-commerce food businesses and startups with state and federal regulatory compliance matters, such as licensing requirements and development of labeling and marketing materials.
- Counsels clients entering foreign markets on foreign regulatory compliance issues.
- Advises retail and foodservice clients on compliance with menu labeling regulations.
- Develops policies, procedures and manuals for food and consumer product industry clients, such as recall policies and SOPs.
- Counsels clients on compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Courtney is committed to client service and tailors her advice to each client’s unique business interests, goals and risk profiles. During law school, she worked in the in-house law department of an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Based on her in-house experience, Courtney appreciates the importance of staying informed on regulatory changes as well as litigation and industry trends to provide timely advice for clients.
Courtney drafts and negotiates supply agreements and other contracts for food industry clients. She applies her in-depth experience in both litigation and regulatory matters to ensure clients’ contracts address the unique risks and issues facing today’s food industry, such as compliance with new federal food-related rules and regulations, marketing risks, indemnification, and recalls.
Courtney advises clients on domestic and foreign food-related compliance issues in mergers and acquisitions involving food companies, including the following transactions:
- Hormel Foods Corporation’s acquisition of Justin’s, LLC
- Hormel Foods Corporation’s sale of Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc.
- SunOpta Inc.’s acquisition of Sunrise Holdings
- Hormel Foods Corporation’s acquisition of Applegate Farms
- MOM Brands Company’s sale to Post Holdings, Inc.
- Tubman Safety Project — Represent clients to obtaining orders for protection
- The Advocates for Human Rights — Asylum assistance
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota — DACA applications
- Faegre Baker Daniels Africa Advocacy Project — Assist with shadow report submissions to United Nations committees
- Faegre Baker Daniels — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2012-present
- Minnesota State Bar Association – North Star Lawyer, 2012-present
- American Bar Association, 2012-present
- Minnesota State Bar Association – Food, Drug and Device Law Section, Board and Council Member, 2012-present
- Minnesota Women Lawyers – Program Committee, 2012-present
- The Fund for Legal Aid — Board Member and Executive Committee, 2016
- Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid — Associates' One Hour of Sharing Campaign, 2012-present (Co-Lead Chair, 2016)
- An Overview of FDA's Final Menu Labeling Rule and How to Prepare for Compliance
Minnesota State Bar Association CLE, February 2015
- Planning for Litigation in the Midst of a Recall
ABA - Women of the Section of Litigation National Conference, November 5-7, 2014
- FDA Takes a Step Forward on 'Natural' Food Labeling
Co-author, Law360, November 25, 2015
- What's on the Menu?
Co-author, Food & Drink, Summer 2015
- FDA Menu Labeling Rules Have Long Reach
Co-author, Law360, December 2014
- Tort Law Desk Reference: A Fifty-State Compendium, Minnesota Chapter
Contributing Author, 2013
- Toxic Tort Litigation (Second Edition)
Contributing Author, 2013
- Defending Pesticide Litigation
Contributing Author, 2013, 2014
- Risky Proposition: California's Prop 65 Opened the Floodgates to Lawsuits against Food Companies
Co-author, Food and Drink, Fall 2013
- New Proposed FSMA Regulations: From Farm to Fork
Co-author, Food Quality, April/May 2013