You're Apparently Not Allowed to Sue General Mills

Company updates its privacy policy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 17, 2014 11:36 AM CDT | Updated Apr 20, 2014 10:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you've "liked" a company on Facebook, downloaded its coupons, or really in any way interacted with it online, you might have inadvertently given up your right to sue it. The New York Times spotted new language in the privacy policy on General Mills' website indicating that customers who did any of those things were agreeing to settle any disputes they might have with the company via arbitration. When the Times asked about it, the company doubled down, adding new text suggesting that anyone who so much as purchased Cheerios was agreeing to the same thing. (A new gray bar atop the site reads in part, "Please note we also have new Legal Terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration.")

The Supreme Court opened the door for this maneuver when it ruled, in 2011's AT&T v. Concepcion, that companies could forbid class-action lawsuits in the contracts their customers sign, and many companies are moving to take advantage. "Although this is the first case I’ve seen of a food company moving in this direction, others will follow—why wouldn’t you?" said a rep from a trial lawyers trade group. "It's essentially trying to protect the company from all accountability." General Mills defends the practice as simply an "efficient way to resolve disputes." Geek-O-System has a detailed breakdown of the policy language.

This June 16, 2011 file photo shows boxes of Cheerios in a store in Akron, NY.
This June 16, 2011 file photo shows boxes of Cheerios in a store in Akron, NY.   (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
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