Category Archives 2nd Circuit

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging that Whole Foods Market Group Inc. misleads consumers by selling sparkling mineral water in a lemon raspberry flavor without an "appreciable amount" of lemons and raspberries. Kelly v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp. Inc., No. 21-3124 (S.D.N.Y., filed April 11, 2021). The label of the water contains images of lemons and raspberries, the complaint asserts, and consumers "will expect the presence of a non-de minimis amount of lemon and raspberry ingredients, based on the pictures of these fruits." The plaintiff argues that the ingredient list, which shows the contents as "carbonated mineral water, organic natural flavors (raspberry, lemon)," fails to inform consumers the flavoring "mainly consists of flavors from fruits other than lemons and raspberries." "Because lemon oil and raspberry oil or raspberry extract are not separately identified ingredients, it means that any real lemon or raspberry flavoring is at most a de minimis…

Two consumers allege that Ancient Brands' Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein products are marketed as beneficial to health but contain protein that is "largely indigestible to the human body and provides little to no actual benefit to consumers." Bush v. Ancient Brands LLC, No. 21-0390 (N.D.N.Y., filed April 5, 2021). The complaint asserts that Ancient Brands fails to calculate the protein content as a percentage of daily value or as calculated by the Protein Digestibility Amino Acid Corrected Score, allegedly violating state and federal regulations. The plaintiffs detail how protein content is calculated, asserting that the percentage daily value listed on the packaging provides consumers information on the quality of protein and is required on product packaging that contains a nutrient content claim for protein. The plaintiffs allege violations of New York and California consumer-protection statutes as well as fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and breach of express warranty.

A New York federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Oregon Chai Inc. for failure to state a claim in litigation centered on whether using the term "vanilla" on packaging is misleading to consumers. Cosgrove v. Oregon Chai Inc., No. 19-10686 (S.D.N.Y., entered February 22, 2021). "In the past two years, counsel for Plaintiffs [] has filed numerous class action complaints across the country, including several in this District, challenging food manufacturers’ use of the term 'vanilla' in their descriptions or advertising," the decision begins. "In nearly all of these cases, the district court ultimately found that the plaintiffs had failed to state a viable claim for relief. This time, Plaintiffs challenge Defendant Oregon Chai, Inc. [], claiming that Defendant’s use of the term 'vanilla' and other statements on the packaging of its chai tea latte powdered mix is misleading to consumers. As set forth in the remainder of this Opinion,…

A New York federal court has dismissed some claims while allowing others to continue in a lawsuit alleging Whole Foods Market Group Inc. misleads consumers by not using graham flour to produce or honey to sweeten its "honey graham crackers." Campbell v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp. Inc., No. 20-1291 (S.D.N.Y., entered February 2, 2021). The court found that the plaintiff adequately pleaded allegations that "the references to 'honey' and 'graham' on the product’s packaging are likely to lead a reasonable consumer to wrongly believe that these graham crackers contain more whole-grain flour than non-whole grain flour, and that honey is their predominant sweetener," so claims under the New York General Business Obligation Law can continue. The court dismissed a claim of negligent misrepresentation, finding the plaintiff "failed to allege the existence of a special relationship giving rise to a duty to speak on the part of the Defendant." The plaintiff's…

Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Icelandic Provisions Inc.'s skyr cultured dairy product is misleadingly marketed as made in Iceland despite being produced in New York. Mantini v. Icelandic Provisions, Inc., No. 21-0618 (S.D.N.Y., filed January 23, 2021). The packaging for the skyr, which features the text "Traditional Icelandic Skyr" and photos of an Icelandic countryside, "gives consumers the belief it is made in Iceland," the complaint asserts. Although the back of the package indicates that the product is "made in Batavia, NY with domestic and imported ingredients," the plaintiffs allege they "relied upon the representations and indications of the Product's origins - literally and figuratively - in Iceland, and desired to purchase such a product." Alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violation of Pennsylvania's consumer-protection statute, the plaintiffs seek class certification, injunctive relief, damages, costs and attorney's fees.

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging Dietz & Watson Inc. misleads consumers by naming its product "Smoked Provolone Cheese" when the cheese's smoky flavor comes from "smoke flavor" rather than "slow cooking over a fire of wood chips." Jones v. Dietz & Watson Inc., No. 20-6018 (E.D.N.Y., filed December 9, 2020). The plaintiff alleges the cheese should be labeled "Natural Smoke Flavored Provolone Cheese" under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations on characterizing flavors. "Even if consumers were to view the ingredient list, a reasonable consumer would have no reason to know that listing 'smoke flavor' forecloses the possibility the Product was also subject to some smoking," the complaint asserts. "However, the Product has not undergone any real smoking, which is deceptive and misleading to consumers." The plaintiff alleges violations of New York's consumer-protection statutes, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Inventure Foods Inc., which produces the T.G.I. Friday's line of frozen foods, produces its "mozzarella sticks" with cheddar. Nason v. Inventure Foods Inc., No. 20-10141 (S.D.N.Y., filed December 3, 2020). The plaintiff cites the ingredient list, which lists only cheddar and not mozzarella, and asserts that "cheddar is a 'hard' cheese less suitable for chewing and lacks the dairy taste of real mozzarella." The complaint further argues that "mozzarella is more nutritious because it contains more calcium and less fat and calories than cheddar." The plaintiff alleges violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, New York's consumer-protection statutes and negligent misrepresenation.

Three similar lawsuits were filed against Target Corp., Gerber Products Co. and Mead Johnson & Co. alleging their "transition" formulas intended for 9- to 18-month-old children are misleadingly marketed as reviewed and monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the same extent infant formulas are. Gavilanes v. Gerber Prods. Co., No. 20-5558 (E.D.N.Y., filed November 15, 2020); Gordon v. Target Corp., No. 20-9589 (S.D.N.Y., filed November 15, 2020); Palmieri v. Mead Johnson & Co., No. 20-9591 (S.D.N.Y., filed November 15, 2020). The complaints assert that the use of the infant formula nutrition panel on the back of the packaging "gives caregivers the impression that the Product is subject to the same scrutiny and oversight as Infant Formula products," causing buyers to be "less likely to identify the added sugar in the Infant & Toddler Formula Product, in the form of corn syrup solids, absent from the Infant Formula product." The…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Kerry Inc.'s Oregon Chai products contain too much sugar to be labeled "slightly sweet." Brown v. Kerry Inc., No. 20-9730 (S.D.N.Y., filed November 18, 2020). The complaint argues that the product's "most prominent claim, 'Slightly Sweet,' is an unlawful nutrient content claim that makes an 'absolute' or 'low' claim about the amount of sugar it contains." The product contains 11 grams of sugar and lists "organic dried cane sugar syrup" as the second ingredient on the ingredient list, and the complaint argues that the addition of milk or milk substitute as instructed by the packaging would result in a total of 20 grams of sugar per serving. The plaintiff alleges negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment along with violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and New York's consumer-protection statutes.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Whole Foods Market Group Inc. mislabels its chocolate-coated ice cream bars because the "purported chocolate contains vegetable oils." Mitchell v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp. Inc., No. 20-8496 (S.D.N.Y., filed October 12, 2020). "Consumers want chocolate in chocolate products to come from a real source, i.e., from cacao beans," the complaint asserts. "Chocolate provides greater satiety and a creamy and smooth mouthfeel compared to other ingredients which substitute for chocolate, like vegetable oils, which provide less satiety, a waxy and oily mouthfeel and leave an aftertaste." The plaintiff argues that the product's chocolate "contains ingredients not found in real chocolate," such as organic expeller pressed palm kernel oil, and alleges the inclusion of the ingredients amounts to fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment as well as violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and New York's consumer-protection statutes.

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