California Chef Who Gives Away Free Foie Gras Gets Sued. Again.


foie gras
Flickr/ulterior epicure

In compliance with California law, Ken Frank, chef and partner at Napa's La Toque restaurant, no longer sells foie gras. He opposed the ban, which kicked in last July. But he says he's willing to comply with the letter of the law.

He does, however, regularly give foie gras away to favored customers. For this act of culinary generosity, he has earned not one, but two lawsuits from animal rights groups. 

After beating back a suit by the Animal Protection and Rescue League (and having the court order the group to pay $12,000 in his attorneys fees) last year, Frank might have thought he was in the clear. Nope! On Thursday:

The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit in Napa County Superior Court against Napa-based La Toque restaurant for violating the state ban on selling and distributing force-fed foie gras products. ALDF's undercover investigations reveal that despite the state ban, La Toque routinely sells foie gras products derived from force-feeding birds to enlarge the birds' liver ("foie gras"), in violation of California Health and Safety Code §§ 25982 and unfair business practices under California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200. 

angry duck

Frank explains

"And I don't charge…" "Foie gras is not on the menu … you can't call up and offer me a $100 bill to include foie gras with your dinner. It's provided on a spontaneous basis.

"I serve it every day on principle because I believe the foie gras I serve comes from ducks that are treated very well."

The duck liver Frank gives away comes from New York's Hudson Valley Foie Gras, "a farm that has put into practice a very impressive set of animal husbandry protocols. They are an open book … they let the press come (on site) with cameras … they have video feeds to make sure (employees) are doing everything right. I'm proud to serve their product."

More Reason on the foie fight here

Vai Manny Klausner.

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  1. “I serve it every day on principle because I believe the foie gras I serve comes from ducks that are treated very well.”

    By conceding their case, you’ve already lost, fool. Either take the moral high ground–that people can eat what they want to eat–or go home.

    1. This. It’s not just about foie gras.

    2. That does not work in the court system.

      1. I’m not talking about the court system, I’m talking about the larger, never-ending battle against statists and control freaks.

        1. They are trying to run a business, and not go bankrupt paying legal bills.

          They could have a more full-throated legal defense along the lines of “this is an unenumerated right protected by the Bill of Rights”, but whatever. They are poking a stick at this bad law, so good on them.

          1. So far they haven’t paid any legal bills…

            1. I don’t think that’s how it works. Most lawyers require a retainer up front. Getting reimbursed for something is not the same as not having to pay it.

              1. I suppose they are out the interest they could have otherwise earned.

        2. They may genuinely believe that it is important to treat ducks right, up until the point they murder them. This is not necessarily a compromise on their part, but what they actually think.

    3. Eh. I think there’s a moral case to be made for humane slaughtery, just not a legal one.

      I mean, would you seriously eat anything killed by Warty?

      1. I would. He mostly devours the externally-exposed soft tissues — eyes, tongue, genitals — and leaves the rest, which is the delicious meat that you and I are accustomed to.

        1. Although you may want to leave any meat within an inch of the cloaca alone.

          1. Well that’s just good sense.

          2. You’d want to leave ANY meat alone from an animal Warty killed. Do you have ANY idea what that does to the meat?

      2. Killed?

        1. Syphilis is pretty deadly.

      3. I don’t really kill them, to be exact. It’s more the exposure and blood loss and horror that kills them, not me.

        1. How very H. P. Lovecraftian of you.

    4. BTW, I’d like to send this back to the debate a few weeks ago about whether parents are considered to own their children. At the time I pointed out that the problem with describing it as ownership is that, as you see here, Libertarians always deny the idea that their can be any limitations on what the owner does with thier property.

      If parents own their children and people can eat what they want to eat, should it be legal to eat your children?

      1. worked out so well for Cronus.

      2. People are not chickens. It is not a violation of the NAP to eat chickens.

  2. ALDF’s undercover investigations reveal that despite the state ban, La Toque routinely sells foie gras

    I am sure that it is not prejudiced in any way. Would you even be able to introduce this in court?

    1. La Toque routinely sells foie gras

      Apparently not, according to the last court.

      1. I thought he was giving it away on principle? If that is the case then the ALDF will be paying his attorney fees.

        He should invite them to sue him again and again until they are flat broke.

        1. Who invites someone to sue them? If they lose even once, they are hosed.

      2. When you order the tasting menu, you get a fois gras dish without asking for it. It is not a listed course, the waiter says it’s on the house and there is no additional fee on your bill for it. It is therefore free, and quite delicious.

  3. Who’s the idiot lawyer risking sanctions over this, because refiling a lawsuit that was just ruled on is pretty much a textbook definition of vexatious litigation?

    1. The risk of a lawyer for a proggy/lefty advocacy group getting sanctioned for anything is probably nil in California.

      1. Crap, when do we get sanctioned for doing stuff we’re not supposed to do in the first place? Not you and me, of course, being in-house and largely above such things, but I’ve seen horrors in the courtroom that go by without the slightest hint of repercussions. Which is one reason the system is so out of whack–file that frivolous claim, because there’s no consequence to doing so!

        1. I have a solution. Put the lawyer on the hook for a countersuit for such abuses. When his money is at stake, he might consider telling his clients that their idea is stupid and without merit, rather than charging them to have a judge do the same.

          1. In theory, they’re already exposed to discipline and even financial consequences. But lawyers get away with quite a lot before actually getting sanctioned.

            1. I would rather have something more specific, like a more aggressive version of the TX tort reform that specifically states that lawyers who file suits dismissed with prejudice may be personally sued for up to 150% of the damages the suit they filed was seeking. Let them be on the receiving end of the jury roulette for a couple of rounds and see if questionable lawsuits continue to be filed.

              1. That’s legal? I mean, I’m all for slapping attorneys around for bullshit litigation, but 150% of the sought damages is potentially a shitload of money. While that may make one smile for a while, it could have some consequences. For instance, some claims are a little outside the box, while still valid. Would you take up that case if it meant you might face millions in liability?

                1. How about suing for up to 150% of legal fees, capped at a certain amount based on the first attorney’s hourly rate?

                2. Let the jury decide how much to award. I said “up to”, not exactly 150%. Also, the case would have to be dismissed with prejudice. If you can convince the jury that either a)the judge was wrong to dismiss the case with prejudice or b)you don’t need to be on the hook for 150% of the damages you were seeking, you should be just fine. Either we trust juries to award fairly in aggregate or we are just kidding ourselves about civil justice.

                3. If a suit is truly frivolous then it gets dismissed very early on in the process before it’s had an opportunity to waste judicial resources. Judges don’t even see 90% of the suits that are filed. The frivolous lawsuit complaint is pretty much a myth.

                  1. Plenty cost all sorts of money, though, and a decent number get through bad judges. To worse juries. Not to mention that legal costs are so out of sight that many frivolous claims get paid off in settlement. Crap, insurance companies often help perpetuate fraud by paying out on settlements so quickly.

                    1. Yep. Had a bike messenger run a red light, going the wrong way across Canal St. in NYC and ride into the side of my car. Found out a couple of years later when I moved and switched my insurance that they paid him something like $9000.

                  2. The frivolous lawsuit complaint is pretty much a myth.

                    No, its really not. Most of those early dismissals are actually settlements, so the plaintiff lawyer is making money on them, and they still cost the defendant legal fees.

                    If they applied the sanctions rule as written, defendants would have a reason to push for sanctions, the incentives would shift, and then you’d see a lot fewer frivolous lawsuits.

                  3. Apparently Capt Ace has never dealt with asbestos litigation.

                  4. If a suit is truly frivolous then it gets dismissed very early on in the process before it’s had an opportunity to waste judicial resources. Judges don’t even see 90% of the suits that are filed. The frivolous lawsuit complaint is pretty much a myth.

                    Bullshit. My wife got slapped with a medical malpractice claim, totally bogus. Her insurance company spent $100K or so defending against it. Goes to trial, dismissed in about 15 minutes by a jury.

                    Try telling her that frivolous lawsuits are a myth, and you’ll get an earful.

    2. Who’s the idiot lawyer risking sanctions over this, because refiling a lawsuit that was just ruled on is pretty much a textbook definition of vexatious litigation?

      Are you daft, man?

      The first was from the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) and not those splitters from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

      1. When this one is dismissed, they’ll send a suicide squad from the Peoples Front of Judea.

        1. Don’t you mean the Animals Front of Judea?

  4. Also, KMW, I’m making a call later to the Hague to have you tried for that alt-text pun.

    1. Let us first rejoice in the fact that the alt-text exists.

      1. Agree. The pun may indicate an actual enjoyment of alt-text, which is something to be encouraged here.

      2. I rather liked the alt-text. I will volunteer for the defense. Bonus, I can go make fun of my extended family , the miserable Frisian SOBs.

  5. They won’t be satisfied until we’re all eating grass.

    1. They won’t be satisfied until we’re all dead.

    2. Free-range organic locally-sourced grass.

      1. My dad makes that stuff. Spoiler alert: the only difference between it and the “conventional” hay he used to make is that it’s now fertilized entirely with cow shit, instead of adding a bit of phospates every 6-7 years.

    3. As long as it is not foy grass.

      1. ^+2

  6. Animal Legal Defense Fund? What do they do, provide free lawyers for ducks caught flying drunk?

    1. I know they once defended a scorpion who stung a frog, arguing that given the scorpion’s upbringing, doing so was in his nature.

      1. The frog’s estate had to pay damages for emotional duress. The frog, unfortunately, escaped justice.

  7. Anyone else see the Duck Dynasty skit on Jimmy Kimmel about Duck Commander products for vegans? It was hysterical.

    1. No. Nobody watches network late night shows except you.

  8. Once in college, while I was waiting for a class to begin, I sat on the steps outside the building and smoked a cigarette. There was a fireant bed near where I was sitting so I poked it with my finger. As the ants flooded out in attack mode I began burning them one by one with my cigarette.

    The class that was in session let out about that time ( some kind of nursing class ) and as the girls streamed out of the door one caught sight of what I was doing. She screamed and dropped her books. She started yelling at me incoherently. Very calmly, with a straight face I said ” They are fireants for fuck’s sake. Go to class.”

    Her friends dragged her off but she kept going on hysterically. That was my first experience with the loony animal rights types.

    1. Should have banged her. Nursing students are ridiculously eager to please, plus she’s got the bonus of having the crazy thing going on.

      1. Some of the best sex I have ever had was with an attorney who worked PETA. No sexy is like crazy sexy.,

        1. She might kill your dogs, but she won’t be boiling a bunny on your stove when you leave her.

        2. The nursing students I’ve been involved with have been the best. Even if their technique was lacking, enthusiasm made up for it. This has held so true that I’m actually considering pursuing an acquittance who is a NP partially because of her field.

          But to agree with you: the one crazy nurse was amazing. No way she’d have lasted one dinner, let alone the couple of months she did, otherwise.

          1. So she was so crazy she started fucking you during dinner? That’s pretty crazy.

            1. Depends on where you’re eating. It might be the new rage in those fancy-schmancy “American tapas” places I hate.

              1. American tap-ass.

            2. No, dinner came after sex. Not even joking. She was an acquittance and I knew her well enough to not date her because of the previously mentioned craziness, as well as a big dose of bitchiness. However, our roommates started dating. He was new at this and after some initial poor performances he got some advice from me that was apparently really effective. Word got to the crazy nurse, and she came on really strong. She was also the only time I’ve had the girl ask me to skip the condom, which I took as a warning sign.

              1. Why are you dating my ex-wife?

                1. Dated. And only if you consider fuck buddies to be dating.

                  I’m now imaging that you actually are her ex-husband. That would be hilarious because she broke up with her boyfriend to pursue me. After about 2 months she got sick of me refusing to do anything with her besides screw and demanded that we start dating or she was getting back together with him. I was fine with that, so she got back together and they got engaged like 2 months later. She cheated on him with some friend of hers for a couple of months, and then made her fiance let the guy attend the wedding. Last I knew they had gotten married and she was still cheating on him.

                  1. Mother of Zod, it’s her!

                    Seriously, you are describing her to a bloody T. Serial cheater, moved from guy to guy, leaving/kicking them out when she had no more use for them, frightening libido, hyper controlling, psycho bitch from Hell and married 3 times before she was 30 (I was #2). She was even a nursing student, at the end.

                    In my defense, I was young and fucking stupid, as opposed to now, which is just plain fucking stupid.

                    1. Sadly it can’t be her because she isn’t 30 yet. She’d be 26 now, I think.

                      On the plus side, if your ex was really that much like this girl, that sex must have been really good.

                      On the actual plus side, at least she’s an ex, right?

                    2. Yes and yes. Scary good sex. Happily, the marriage was short lived and no kids. I actually made some money out of it.

                      You are a very wise young man, to have walked away from that veritable, screaming train wreck.

    2. they are an invasive species here in the US. WTF was her problem?

      1. No, a large percentage of nursing students are native.

  9. Sounds like some crazy smack dude.

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