A federal judge in New York says a portion of the case against the Monroe, New Hampshire-based company Pete and Gerry's Organics can proceed.
The animal rights group PETA sued the egg company last year on behalf of a group of customers, alleging that Pete and Gerry's was misleading customers about conditions on its farms.
In an order issued last week, the judge dismissed many of PETA’s claims and said only plaintiffs living in New York could proceed in the case.
PETA’s lawsuit targets the Pete and Gerry's label, Nellie's Free Range Eggs, which sells eggs from around sixty farms at stores across the U.S. It advertises Nellie's products as free-range and Certified Humane.
PETA alleges that the hens are in constricted areas and don't have access to the outdoors. In addition to filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, PETA has made several videos of conditions on one of the company's farms and shoppers’ reactions to it.
Jesse Laflamme, the CEO and third-generation owner of Pete and Gerry’s, says the videos were selectively edited to show hens inside a large warehouse, even though they spend at least six hours per day outside, weather-permitting.
He said once customers understand PETA’s agenda, they don’t pay much attention to the lawsuit.
“What people don’t understand about PETA is that they don’t even want people to have a pet,” he said. “So that’s what we’re dealing with. So rather than seeing somebody improving animal welfare and providing a more humane alternative, [PETA] would rather us not exist.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the federal judge dismissed some of PETA's claims.