On Tuesday, a Manhattan judge dismissed a claim that Unilever had deceived American investors by failing to disclose right away that its Ben & Jerry’s division had decided to stop selling ice cream in Israeli territories above the Green Line.
A lawsuit was filed in June 2022 by the City of St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System, a Michigan pension fund, seeking compensation for the decline in the value of Unilever shares following the announcement by Ben & Jerry’s in July 2021 that it would stop selling its products in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, and east Jerusalem. When the Ben & Jerry’s board decided to boycott in 2020, U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield determined that Unilever was not compelled to publicize the boycott.
When Unilever acquired the Vermont-based ice cream business in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s board continued to oversee the company’s “social mission,” but Unilever held control over financial and operational choices. Ben & Jerry’s, a company that prides itself on being socially conscientious, stated in 2021 that selling ice cream in the territories was “inconsistent with our values.
Unilever said in December of last year that a legal dispute with Ben & Jerry’s independent board had been settled. The Israeli Ben & Jerry’s ice cream operation was sold by the British consumer goods corporation to local licensee Avi Zinger for an unknown price months earlier. In an effort to stop the sale, Ben & Jerry’s retaliated by suing its parent company, Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s stated in a revised lawsuit filed in September 2022 that it was seeking damages and demanding the restitution of the trademarks. Additionally, the company urged a judge to order Zinger not to sell ice cream in Judea and Samaria. There have been accusations against Ben & Jerry’s for using child labor.