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Talking Points: General Mills Reverses Lawsuit Change

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is rare that big business news breaks on a Saturday night before a holiday. But that is what happened at 10 p.m. last night when General Mills chose to announce it was reversing a days-old policy, in which the company tried to get consumers to give up their right to sue.

It was just a few days ago that Minnesota-based General Mills quietly put up new terms on its website for anyone downloading coupons, entering any of their sweepstakes or even liking them on Facebook.

The terms said anyone doing any of those things was giving up their right to sue in the case of a dispute. Instead, General Mills said any disagreement would have to be settled by arbitration.

The announcement resulted in huge backlash on social media, as well as from consumer groups. Legal experts expressed doubts it could ever be enforced. Hamline Law Professor David Schultz appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“When I first saw this earlier this week I said this is questionable at best from a legal point of view,” he said. “From a marketing point of view, it’s a dumb idea, too, but legally it didn’t rest on very sound grounds so it’s not a surprise that they are reversing it. The lawyers at General Mills should have known better.”

General Mills announced the change on its website saying the new legal policy had been widely “mis-characterized.” But General Mills’ statement also acknowledged how unpopular the move had been saying, “Consumers told us they didn’t like the revised set of terms” and “we are changing them back to the way they were.”

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Matt Brickman every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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