Food and Beverage

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Briggs and Morgan has a depth of experience working with food related clients and a keen understanding of the complex regulatory environment which permeates the industry. We advise clients across the food industry, often as primary outside counsel responsible for the full spectrum of services. From food manufacturers and retailers to franchisee associations, we work closely with our clients to help them achieve their business goals.

Spanning the scope of food law, Briggs represents clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions; financing; joint ventures; employment, benefits and labor; product distribution; regulatory issues; labeling; intellectual property; environmental; and transportation. In addition, we have significant litigation experience, including product matters involving liability, food labeling issues, USDA inspection issues, personal injury, insurance disputes, class action, product tampering complaints, evaluating product recalls, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), religious accommodation, race and national origin employment issues.

With a national presence, we work with companies of all sizes, from vertically integrated food production to grocery store chains. Some of these clients include:

  • food processors, including poultry, meat, milk and cheese products
  • wholesale companies
  • agricultural producers
  • co-ops
  • nutraceuticals
  • dietary supplements
  • ingredient manufacturers
  • branded food companies
  • online grocery and food delivery services
  • restaurants and restaurant suppliers
  • franchises and franchisee associations
  • private label
  • food service

In all areas, Briggs seeks to build upon our experience by staying abreast of, and making clients aware of, new developments in the industry. We understand the ever-changing scientific and market trends that drive the food industry and we strive to meet our clients’ needs at every level. In addition, we regularly offer educational opportunities for our clients, attorneys and industry professionals.

Our representative experience includes:

  • Represented PepsiAmericas, Inc. in its merger with PepsiCo, Inc., a transaction involving the acquisition of all of the outstanding shares of PepsiAmericas, Inc. and Pepsi Bottling Group. The transaction valued at $7.8 billion, created one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies.
  • Represent a global cheese and nutritional ingredients group, with its North American acquisitions since 1989. Most recently, acted as lead counsel in their $315-million acquisition of a leading U.S. manufacturer of sports nutrition supplements. This transaction has given the client access to branded products in the fast-growing sports nutrition supplements market and expands the foreign company’s presence in North America. In the last three years, Briggs also acted as the client’s lead counsel in connection with two acquisitions in Canada and California respectively.
  • Represent a regional grocery store chain and home delivery company as their principal outside counsel in matters including acquisitions, employment and class action.
  • Successful defense of large food processors in FLSA “donning and doffing” (refers to putting on/taking off work gear) cases.
  • Represented a large food processor in a multi-plant class action race discrimination and religious accommodation claim by employees.
  • Obtained preliminary injunction against the state of Arizona for a large food processor prohibiting the imposition of state food package labeling requirements that are more onerous than federal law.
  • Develop advertising, promotions and sweepstakes campaigns, and providing counseling on food law labeling on behalf of a large food company.
  • Serve as counsel in the creation of national purchasing co-ops (or purchasing and distribution co-ops) for fast-food franchisee associations.
  • Intellectual property counseling and patent prosecution for clients in consumer food products, food service products, food ingredients and dietary/nutritional supplements.
  • Represent well-known restaurants and independent private restaurant entrepreneurs regarding securities, corporate governance and other business matters.
  • Represented three restaurant chains in their initial public offerings (IPOs).
  • Obtained a deferral for a food processor on the implementation of new MPDES phosphorus standards.

Representative Matters

  • Advise on HIPAA and HITECH compliance for group health plan as a cover entity, including negotiating terms of business associate agreements, drafting policies and procedures, conducting employee training, and drafting plan amendments.
  • Represent global agricultural industry client in bankruptcy adversary proceeding and defense of proof of claim involving contract cancellation and offset as a forward contract merchant under the bankruptcy code.
  • Representation of a premium coffeehouse operator in its $340 million sale transaction to a foreign-based private equity purchaser.
  • Representation of a microbrewery since its IPO in its public disclosures, SEC filings and go-dark transaction.
  • Representation of a casual dining restaurant group since its IPO, including PIPE transactions, preferred stock financings, a debt restructuring, sale of control to a private equity investor and acquisitions of assets.
  • Represented a bottling company in $1.4 billion of registered debt issuances, 10b5-1 repurchase plans, adoption of a majority voting policy and $7.8 billion merger and go-private transaction. Created one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies.
  • Represented a Europe-based global cheese and nutritional ingredients company in a $315 million bolt-on transaction to expand their presence in North America.
  • Represented a leading manufacturer of frozen foods in its acquisition of two public frozen foods companies.
  • Represented a Minneapolis-based conglomerate with a $50-million investment in a micro-brewery logistics company.
  • Represented the largest American-style cheese manufacturer in the United States in its asset acquisition of a cheese manufacturing plant.
  • Representation of a private equity firm and nearly all of its portfolio companies in M&A matters, financing matters, corporate governance, real estate matters, employee benefits and equity compensation plans.
  • Represented a large food producer in both state and federal court, defending against alleged antitrust violations.
  • Research and analyze third party patent portfolio to establish scope of patent coverage. Assess whether proposed improvements to trade secret technology are clear from scope of third party patent claims.
  • Successful jury trial: won jury verdict in favor of international food company and obtained a $90,000 judgment against plaintiff in employment discrimination lawsuit.
  • Advise ESOP company executives on the sale of the company to a third party.
  • Arbitrated breach of contract claim against brewery after client's beverages spoiled. 
  • Assisted client in development and administration of RFP seeking national supplier to provide and deliver products to restaurants, including drafting and negotiation of Supply and Distribution Services Agreements.
  • Conduct IP due diligence on international research organization's patent portfolio to develop strategy for joint research initiative. Develop transaction plan based on R&D and business directives.
  • Defended agricultural commodity trader in preference actions and in defending claim objections in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases across the country. 
  • Defended beverage company against former manager's claims of age and disability discrimination and retaliation under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and discrimination and retaliation under the FMLA.
  • Develop, grow and manage comprehensive global patent portfolio and generate competitive patent strategy in a rapidly expanding new ingredient category.
  • Drafting and prosecution of patent applications for a global ingredient manufacturer.
  • Drafting and prosecution of patents directed to food technology innovations.
  • Lead trial counsel in the representation of farmers and ranchers who were denied due process in the issuance of an order by a state agency denying them the exercise of their water rights to irrigate their crops and water their livestock.
  • Negotiated multi-million dollar settlement with third-party's insurer to cover the damages incurred as a result of a third-party's product recall.
  • Negotiated severance package for former founder and president of corporation.
  • Obtained a summary judgment against a party's insurer under a commercial general liability policy, determining that there was coverage for a million dollar plus settlement of recall claims.
  • Obtained full summary judgment on claims of selling an unregistered/undisclosed franchise based upon estoppel and summary judgment on earnings claims.
  • Prepared and presented training to client's human resources department on discipline and discharge practices and compliance with employment statutes.
  • Provide ongoing counsel regarding employee hiring, compensation, discipline and discharge.
  • Provided guidance on numerous issues impacting poultry producer.
  • Assisted in the sale of a privately held producer of food products through a merger with a strategic acquirer.
  • Prosecuting patents and trademarks for health food and food ingredients, agricultural and animal ventilation products, beer brewing and restaurant services and ice cream products.
  • Provide strategic counseling on intellectual property matters; license drafting and negotiation; portfolio development and pre-suit analyses for various companies.
  • Represent multiple companies in procurement and enforcement of worldwide patent and trademark rights.
  • Represented major food company in damages phase of insurance coverage dispute with insurer related to underlying event of grain supply tainted with pesticide. Two-month jury trial, resulting in $49 million verdict in favor of client.
  • Briggs and Morgan Attorneys Represent Midwest’s Leading Provider of Premium Quality Chicken in Sale to Largest Family-Owned Pork Production Company in North America.
  • Contract dispute. 
  • Trade secret/antitrust action.