According to Forbes, in 2020, online grocery sales skyrocketed 103% year-over-year to $73.7 billion. The grocery store has been a nationwide site of weekly pilgrimage since the dawn of grocery stores. There are few common experiences amongst humanity, but the harsh harmony of fluorescent lights and subtle hum of refrigerated aisles stocks the shelves of our collective American memory. But the in-person experience of grocery stores faces a usurper: online shopping.
Grocery stores have experienced a wave of consolidation in recent decades, as have many other American industries. As a cornerstone of American life, and as massive employers, these companies attract litigation as well. The below Docket Alarm-powered analysis shows common federal litigation trends across a handful of nationwide grocery store chains Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco, and whether online shopping trends affects their litigation statistics.
According to Fortune 500, Walmart has topped the list as the world’s largest company by revenue for over a decade. According to Docket Alarm, America’s largest private employer averages 3 new federal lawsuits a day, with a significant spike in February 2023. Adding in Docket Alarm’s coverage of 34 states as well as agencies brings the daily total up to 14.5 proceedings.
Walmart’s most frequented federal courts are the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Ohio, , the District of New Jersey, and the Central District of California.
Walmart’s most common case types are Personal Injury, and Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability. Personal injury cases often include “slip and fall” cases, as well as other incidents, such as shoppers being struck by a row of moving carts.
The Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability grouping includes a number of parents individually suing Walmart, along with CVS, Johnson&Johnson, and etc., for negligence, breach of warranty, and liability for medication sold and taken by said parents when they were pregnant. The parents suing allege the medication in question injured their children with autism spectrum disorder and/or ADHD. These cases have been grouped together into a multidistrict litigation centered in the Southern District of New York.
Similarly, the February 2023 spike can be attributed to lawsuits filed primarily against pharmaceutical companies in another nationwide multidistrict litigation, captioned In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation.
Costco is ranked #12 by revenue on the Fortune 500 and is the third largest retailer in the world. Docket Alarm analysis reveals that Costco engages in an average of 1.1 legal proceedings a day, with a similar spike to Walmart in February 2023.
Costco’s most frequented courts are the California Central District, the Florida Southern District—shared with Walmart—, and the California Northern district. Costco’s corporate headquarters is located in Issaquah, Washington.
Costco’s most common case types are Personal Injury and Healthcare/ Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability. Similar to the Walmart personal injury cases, Costco’s involve a number of wet aisle slips as well. Costco’s healthcare/pharmaceutical related cases feature case overlap with Walmart’s, generally concerning the same multidistrict litigation.
According to Docket Alarm analytics, Whole Foods averages 1 federal proceeding a week. Unlike to Walmart and Costco, there is no litigation spike in February 2023 – Whole Foods is not involved in the pharmaceutical-related multidistrict litigation.
Whole Foods’ most frequented courts are the Southern District of New York, the District of New Jersey, and the Eastern District of New York, with the Southern District of Florida trailing close behind. Whole Foods’ corporate headquarters is located in Austin, Texas.
Whole Foods’ most common case types are Personal Injury, and Civil Rights. The personal injury cases are in similar nature to Walmart’s and Costco’s, alleging the personal injuries in question were caused by negligence in either cart handling or hazardous conditions. The Civil Rights case grouping involves specifics such as, alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act as well as alleged unlawful discrimination.