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Judge Tosses Class’s GMO Claim Against Chipotle

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge Monday dismissed without prejudice a class action against Chipotle over its anti-GMO ad campaign, in light of the recent withdrawal of the lead plaintiff and her attorneys' attempts to add new claims.

Colleen Gallagher sued Chipotle in August 2015 over its "Food With Integrity" campaign.

Through ads using phrases such as "G-M-Over It," the fast food chain touted itself as the first in the United States to use only ingredients derived from non-genetically modified sources.

But Gallagher claimed that "among other things, Chipotle serves meat products that come from animals which feed on GMOs, including corn and soy. Chipotle's tacos and burritos are also usually served with sour cream and cheese from dairy farms that feed animals with GMOs. And, Chipotle also sells Coca-Cola and other soft drinks that are made with corn syrup - a GMO."

Gallagher dropped out of action last week, for unknown reasons. Her attorney, Lawrence King, did not respond to an inquiry on her notice for voluntary dismissal.

U.S. District Judge Gilliam Haywood Jr. on Monday dismissed the action, noting that the first amended complaint that added six class representatives and several new claims under Maryland, Florida, and New York laws "went well beyond the scope of the court's leave to amend."Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of her case, coupled with the Court's order striking the new class representatives and claims, means that nothing remains of this action," Haywood concluded. "The additional class representatives named for the first time in the FAC may file a new action against defendant if they wish. However, they may not plead around the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) by substituting themselves for plaintiff without leave from the Court or written consent from the opposing party, when plaintiff clearly no longer wishes to prosecute her claims."

Chipotle attorney Charles Cavanagh did not reply to a request for comment.

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