Court Grants Certification in Non-GMO Chipotle Suit
A California federal court has granted class certification to a group of consumers alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. misrepresented its food as made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Schneider v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., No. 16-2200 (N.D. Cal., entered September 29, 2018). Chipotle has faced a number of similar suits, but other iterations have been dismissed.
The court found that the plaintiffs met each of the requirements for class certification, rejecting Chipotle’s argument that each class member may have seen significantly different marketing messages. “Plaintiffs rely primarily on the advertisements and statements issued and installed in all of Chipotle’s stores,” the court found, noting that three advertisements supported the plaintiffs’ claims. “Based on Plaintiffs’ theory that ‘reasonable consumers understood Non-GMO to include meat and dairy ingredients that were not sourced from animals fed GM feed,’  the Court finds that the representations made on these three in-store signs are not so disparate as to preclude cohesion among class members.  Neither party has offered any evidence or argument that members of the proposed classes could have purchased Chipotle meat and/or dairy products without setting foot inside the restaurants, and therefore without having been exposed to any of this signage. The Court therefore concludes that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged class-wide exposure.”