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Costco Ducks Slave-Shrimper Action

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge on Friday dismissed with leave to amend a class action accusing Costco of selling shrimp harvested with slave labor in Thailand.

Lead plaintiff Monica Sud sued Costco in August, claiming the retail giant falsely advertised a policy that prohibits human rights abuses in its supply chain.

U.S. District Judge Jeffery White granted Costco's motion to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction after the retailer submitted evidence showing the plaintiffs never purchased prawns sourced from Thailand.

Although Sud has a receipt proving she purchased prawns in March 2015, Costco's records show she never used her member card to buy farmed prawns. Another class member did purchase farmed prawns but those were imported from Vietnam and Indonesia, not Thailand, according to the ruling.

"Based on this record, the court concludes that Sud has not put forth sufficient evidence to overcome Costco's factual challenge to Article III standing," White wrote in his 6-page ruling.

However, the judge granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint, finding the class could allege that prawns from other nations - like Indonesia and Vietnam - are harvested with slave labor.

The judge said the plaintiffs could also add new class members who did purchase prawns sourced from Thailand to overcome the challenge of standing.

The plaintiffs must submit an amended complaint by Feb. 19.

Sud is represented by Anne Murphy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy of Burlingame, Calif.

Costco is represented by Robert Mittelstaedt of Jones Day in San Francisco.

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