Consumers giving up right to sue by liking products on Facebook, downloading coupons, report says

Are consumers relinquishing their rights when liking a product on Facebook or downloading a company’s coupons?

According to a New York Time’s article , a growing number of companies have policies which take away the consumer’s right to sue if they receive anything considered a benefit from the company.    

General Mills recently notified their customers on its website that they give up their right to sue the company when they download a coupon or join it in an online community like Facebook, the report says.

“When you’re talking about food, you’re also talking about things that can kill people,” Scott L. Nelson, a lawyer at Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy group told the New York Times . “There is a huge difference in the stakes, between the benefit you’re getting from this supposed contract you’re entering into by, say, using the company’s website to download a coupon, and the rights they’re saying you’re giving up."

General Mills paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits over health claims made on its packaging and settled another lawsuit last year over false labeling on its Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups when the product doesn’t include strawberry, the report said.

The policy is broadly written and will raise interesting legal questions, the report said.

Mobile phone and credit card companies have similar policies as companies continue to attempt to protect themselves from lawsuits.

“Although this is the first case I’ve seen of a food company moving in this direction, others will follow — why wouldn’t you?” Julia Duncan, director of federal programs and an arbitration expert at the American Association for Justice told the New York Times. “It’s essentially trying to protect the company from all accountability, even when it lies, or say, an employee deliberately adds broken glass to a product.”

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