In the recent 9th Circuit US Court case involving ConAgra Foods Inc. and a class action settlement about the marketing of Wesson Oils, a brand formerly owned by ConAgra, as being "100% natural," the presiding Judge Kenneth K. Lee made an extraordinary legal decree about Star Wars.
A quick summary of the case: ConAgra got into some legal trouble for deceptively marketing their Wesson Oil brand as "natural." But they sold the brand while the class action suit was still ongoing, making a profit on the sale at the same time that they agreed to some settlement payments. The plaintiffs in this new case — the Center for Class Action Fairness (CCAF), representing Prof. Todd Henderson — were mad because:
[The settlements provided to] all class members put together less than one seventh of the $6.85 million attorneys' fee request. The settling parties claim that the settlement is worth over $27 million because Conagra agreed to an injunction that it will not market Wesson Oil as "natural"—but Conagra sold off Wesson earlier this year! The injunction does nothing unless Conagra reacquires a business it strategically sold. The objection contends that the stipulated $27 million valuation is a ruse plaintiffs' attorneys bargained for to justify taking over 85% of the settlement value.
But the details here aren't really important or exciting. What's important is page 26 of Judge Lee's opinion, in which he employs some expertly wonderful pop culture similes in explaining the absurdity of ConAgra's settlement. It begins as such:
Under the settlement, ConAgra agreed to refrain from marketing Wesson Oil as "100% Natural." That sounds great, except that ConAgra already abandoned that strategy in 2017 — two years before the parties hammered out their agreement — for reasons it claims were unrelated to this or any other litigation. Even worse, ConAgra's promise not to use the phrase "100% Natural" on Wesson Oil appears meaningless because ConAgra no longer owns Wesson Oil. In reality, this promise is about as meaningful and enduring as a proposal in the Final Rose ceremony on the Bachelor.
Okay, that's cute. But then Judge Lee really digs in:
Simply put, Richardson — the new owner of Wesson Oil — can resume using the "100% Natural" label at any time it wishes, thereby depriving the class of any value theoretically afforded by the injunction. ConAgra thus essentially agreed not to do something over which it lacks the power to do. That is like George Lucas promising no more mediocre and schlocky Star Wars sequels shortly after selling the franchise to Disney. Such a promise would be illusory.
It is this section that contains the footnote (accompanying the word "illusory") which leads to this very important legal detail:
As evident by Disney's production of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
While I might personally disagree with Judge Lee (The Last Jedi is fantastic, anyway), I appreciate that there is now a US legal precedent on the 9th Circuit for crapping on the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi & Rise of Skywalker Declared Mediocre by Judge [Adam Bentz / Screen Rant]