Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Food and Beverage

Goldberg Segalla understands the myriad legal and regulatory challenges facing the food and beverage industry. Our breadth of experience resolving commercial, regulatory, and product liability disputes for clients — including market-leading manufacturers of food and other products — means we provide not only solutions for the complex problems facing food businesses today, but also sound, practical advice to avoid potential pitfalls in the future.

Whether your business involves growing, producing, distributing, or selling food and beverages — or any combination thereof — we provide the legal prowess plus industry perspective necessary to help you reach your goals, protect your assets, and gain a competitive advantage. We are well-versed in all the 21st-century challenges of doing business in this industry, including implementing measures of the Food Safety Modernization Act, complying with ever-changing environmental regulations, and handling the unique issues involved with organic production.

Goldberg Segalla can help your food business with:

  • Regulatory compliance — We are well versed in the regulatory and business challenges facing our clients — including the extensive regulations on food ingredients and additives issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal and state agencies. We can guide you through compliance and act as your representative in dealing with these agencies.
  • Alcoholic beverage law and licensing — We defend clients charged with violations of governing liquor and tax laws, provide consulting and regulatory advice regarding business operations and transactions, negotiate liquor license transfers, provide corporate services (such as business formation and drafting necessary corporate documents and agreements), and litigate shareholder disputes and disputes between buyers and sellers. We provide counsel to help our clients align their business needs with the statutory and regulatory requirements of this highly regulated industry.
  • Brewery and distillery legal needs — We assist both startup and established breweries and distilleries with all of the legal challenges that can face these ventures, from transactional and intellectual property matters to employment and labor, as well as assisting clients with state and federal regulatory compliance, including Dram Shop Laws.
  • Risk avoidance — We help clients navigate the growing and complicated global legal issues confronting them in order to effectively manage risk and minimize the potential for a lawsuit. Our attorneys counsel on everything from major product liability concerns to the daily operational issues of a business.
  • Import, export, and entering the U.S. market — We frequently assist global producers of food and grain products with importing goods into the U.S., exporting their goods abroad, or setting up U.S. operations. We can assist with customs and trade issues, cross-border transactions, filing prior notice of imported foods, registering food production facilities with the FDA and the USDA, and other critical issues.
  • Litigation — From national class actions to regional and local litigation or alternative dispute resolution forums, we have extensive experience defending clients in the full range of disputes that may arise from the development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and use of products in highly regulated and litigation-prone industries like food. Our team routinely handles disputes involving personal injury, product liability, class actions, contracts and commercial agreements, franchise agreements, intellectual property rights, alleged violations of consumer protection statutes, and other critical areas, with a focus on resolving claims in the most efficient way possible for our clients.
  • Labeling, advertising, and marketing — We know from experience that the proper labeling and careful promotion of your product lines can make the difference between success and failure in a regulatory dispute or a product liability lawsuit. We draft, review, and advise on the copy for product labels and packaging, as well as advertising, marketing, and promotional campaigns in all media (including television, broadcast, print, the internet, and social media) to help ensure compliance with the FDA, CPSC, FTC, and other regulatory agencies. Our proactive approach also helps our clients guard against potential product liability, false advertising, improper labeling, failure to warn, intellectual property infringement, consumer fraud, and other claims, including those involving “all-natural,” “non-GMO,” “hormone-free,” “organic,” and other assertions.
  • Employment and Labor — We serve the day-to-day labor and employment needs of employers of all types and sizes, including handling all aspects of labor relations; counseling on employment practices and policies; and representing employers against all types of unfair labor practice charges, claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and allegations relating to age, race, gender, and disability discrimination. We counsel and represent clients on wage and hour issues involving the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including those related to the food service and hospitality industry.
  • Workers’ compensation — Goldberg Segalla has successfully represented clients from numerous industries in workers’ compensation litigation, and we have handled a full range of cases involving both major and minor injuries, in both the “accident” and “occupational disease” contexts.
  • Manufacturing and distribution — We have extensive experience drafting and negotiating manufacturing and distribution agreements, and we can advise on a broad range of import and export concerns. We also assist with workplace safety issues, including evaluation of compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
  • Trucking and transportation — We provide comprehensive transportation law litigation services and representation aimed at helping you avoid or minimize liability in the event of an accident involving a vehicle in your fleet. Our 24-seven Emergency Response Team manages the first response to an accident in order to begin building a defense to a potential claim immediately.
  • Enforcement actions and crisis management — We utilize our extensive experience negotiating with the FDA to help clients respond to warning letters, notices of inspectional observations, government investigations, and other enforcement actions. Our team is also experienced in managing product adulteration and recalls (including both enforced and voluntary recalls), and we can advise clients on effective responses to adverse publicity resulting from recalls or safety concerns.
Food Industry Perspective and Trusted Experience

At Goldberg Segalla, we continually build our understanding of each client’s industry and individual business models and products so we are better positioned to advise them on how to achieve their unique goals. We represent major food producers, distributors, and retailers within our office footprint as well as across the United States.

A small sampling of our attorneys’ experience in the food industry includes:

  • Serving as general liability counsel to a national pizza chain in New York and New Jersey, and for the past 10 years successfully representing the company in numerous vehicular accident and premises liability cases, contractual claims involving franchisees, insurance coverage and lease disputes, subrogation matters, and the occasional food adulteration case
  • Efficiently resolving a $13 million commercial claim over a beverage distribution route asserted against a Fortune 100 company, resulting in the plaintiff voluntarily agreeing to discontinue its claim against our client
  • Serving as outside general counsel for a producer of candy and other food products with involvement in almost all aspects of the business, including negotiating numerous domestic and international contracts, coordinating with state agencies on tax issues, representing the company in litigation, coordinating trademark renewals and intellectual property licensing, representing the company in connection with an FDA inspection, and advising senior management on a wide range of issues
  • Representing a major international food retailer in a discrimination complaint filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights
  • Representing a producer of nut butter products on the construction of a new facility
  • Acting as counsel to a major food processing and packaging company in connection with personal injury litigation allegedly related to a food thickening agent
  • Leading the multi-state (Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa) defense team defending a food company in Salmonella milk poisoning cases that, at the time, were the largest food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S.
  • Handling food poisoning defense for two major national retailers in a number of cases related to freshness issues
  • Defending a gastropub in a high-value trademark dispute that could have forced the business to close
  • Defending a startup brewery against opportunistic trademark litigation from an established competitor

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4.7/5.0 (1253 reviews)
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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for Michael Rubin by a Partner on 05/28/15 in Civil Litigation

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary. Read less

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Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.

We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:

  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.

The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.

For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.

Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.

In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.

Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.


Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.

We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.

Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.

On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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