Category Archives 3rd Circuit

A group of consumers has filed a putative class action alleging the Healthy Beverage Co. LLC misleadingly labels its products as "lightly sweetened" because the product contains 20 grams of added sugar, or 40% of the recommended daily intake. Pierre v. Healthy Beverage Co. LLC, NO. 20-4934 (E.D. Penn., filed October 6, 2020). The complaint cites a letter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleging the company's representations of its products as "lightly sweetened" are misleading as well as the definition of "lightly" as it appears in a Merriam-Webster dictionary. The plaintiffs allege one cause of action, unjust enrichment, on behalf of a proposed nationwide class.

A group of workers at a Maid-Rite Specialty Foods production plant has filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require Maid-Rite to establish procedures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Does v. Scalia, No. 20-1260 (M.D. Penn., filed July 22, 2020). The plaintiffs allege that they face "imminent dangers posed by a workplace that has failed to take the most basic precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19." The complaint asserts that Maid-Rite is "failing to provide cloth face coverings, configuring the production line in such a way that workers cannot social distance, failing to arrange for social distancing in other areas of the plant, failing to provide adequate handwashing opportunities, creating incentives for workers to attend work sick, failing to inform workers of potential exposures to COVID-19, and rotating-in workers from other facilities in a way that increases the risk…

A group of consumers has filed a putative class action asserting that Nestle USA Inc. and Ferrara Candy Co.’s opaque candy boxes contain too much slack fill. Iglesia v. Nestle USA Inc., No. 20-5971 (D.N.J., filed May 15, 2020). The complaint alleges that Ferrara and Nestle “pioneered a scheme to deceptively sell candy in oversized, opaque boxes that do not reasonably inform consumers that they are half empty. Defendants’ ‘slack-fill’ scam dupes unsuspecting consumers across America to pay for empty space at premium prices.” The complaint also features several photos of boxes with portions cut away, purportedly showing the amount of empty space in an unopened package. For alleged violations of New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Florida consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiffs seek an injunction, restitution, damages and attorney’s fees.

A consumer has filed a putative class action arguing that Dutch Gold Honey Inc. sells honey that lacks the antioxidants for which consumers purchase buckwheat honey, allegedly amounting to fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. Wolfe v. Dutch Gold Honey Inc., No. 19-4562 (E.D. Penn., filed October 1, 2019). “Unknown to Plaintiff and the Class, the Buckwheat Honey sold by Dutch Gold does not contain the antioxidants that consumers prize in buckwheat honey,” the plaintiff asserts. “Moreover, because Dutch Gold buys honey that has been harvested prematurely, Dutch Gold (or the sources it purchases honey from) must dry the honey out, so it heats its Buckwheat Honey to high temperatures for a long enough time that the antioxidants normally found in buckwheat honey are destroyed.” The plaintiff challenges in particular a statement from Dutch Gold’s website asserting that its buckwheat honey “has been demonstrated to have higher levels of antioxidants than…

H.J. Heinz Co. has filed a trademark infringement suit alleging Real Good Food Co. created and sold frozen appetizers described as "Poppers," which Heinz argues it owns the rights to for "frozen appetizers consisting primarily of vegetables, pork and/or cheese, not including shrimp." H.J. Heinz Co. Brands LLC v. Real Good Food Co., No. 19-0915 (W.D. Penn., filed July 26, 2019). Heinz further argues that Real Good Food Co. had actual knowledge of Heinz's rights to the Poppers mark because Real Good Food Co.'s website compares its products to Heinz's TGI Friday's-branded appetizers. Heinz alleges federal trademark counterfeiting, infringement, dilution and unfair competition and seeks injunctive relief, damages and destruction of infringing materials.

The Scotch Whisky Association has filed a lawsuit alleging that the name of Virginia Distillery Co.'s Virginia-Highland Whisky misleads consumers into believing the alcohol beverage is a product of Scotland. Scotch Whisky Ass'n v. Va. Distillery Co., No. 19-1264 (D. Del., filed July 8, 2019). The complaint asserts the Virginia Distillery Co. product is described as "Whisky from Scotland married with Virginia Whisky," allegedly violating federal regulations prohibiting the use of "words commonly associated with Scotland to designate any product not wholly produced in Scotland," including "Highland" and "Highlands." The association seeks an injunction, a recall, fees and costs for allegations of false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

A New Jersey federal court has denied class certification to a plaintiff challenging Tropicana's marketing representations of its juice as "pure" and "natural." In re Tropicana Orange Juice Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. 11-7382 (D.N.J., entered June 19, 2019). The court first denied certification for a New York class because the plaintiff only purchased Tropicana in California, then it turned to the requirement of predominance. "Plaintiff has not demonstrated that a uniform misrepresentation was made to the class sufficient to satisfy predominance as to the '100% pure and natural orange juice,' '100% pure,' '100% natural,' '100% juice' 'fresh,' 'grove to glass,' 'squeezed from fresh oranges,' 'straight-from-the-orange,' and Orange/Straw labels," the court found. "[T]he Court would be required to perform an individualized inquiry into each product purchased to determine what combinations of labels were visible before determining whether that combination is deceiving to a reasonable consumer. These variations are the…

A former vice president of National Beverage Corp. has alleged that he was fired because he objected to the company president's intention to use cans lined with bisphenol A (BPA) while marketing its LaCroix products as natural and BPA-free. Dejewski v. Nat'l Beverage Corp., No. PAS-L-1802-19 (N.J. Super. Ct., Passaic Cty., filed June 6, 2019). The complaint alleges that Albert Dejewski was fired in retaliation for objecting to Joseph Caporella's plan to "prematurely announce" that the company's LaCroix cans would be BPA-free; Dejewski argues that Caporella knew LaCroix would not be sold in BPA-free cans until "at a minimum 4-6 months" after the announcement. Dejewski seeks damages under New Jersey's whistleblower-protection law.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled its lawsuit alleging that Gerber Products Co. made false claims about the anti-allergy benefits of Good Start Gentle infant formula, according to an order terminating the action. FTC v. Gerber Prods. Co., No. 14-6771 (D.N.J., entered April 30, 2019). FTC filed the action in response to Gerber's claims that its formula was "the first and only infant formula" that could claim to reduce the risk of developing allergies. Following FTC's lawsuit, consumers made similar claims in a putative class action. The court's order terminates the action but does not provide details about the settlement.

Wendy's International Inc. has settled two class actions alleging injuries stemming from a 2016 payment-system breach. Jackson v. Wendy's Int'l Inc., No. 16-0210 (M.D. Fla., entered February 26, 2019); First Choice Fed. Credit Union v. Wendy's Co., No. 16-0506 (W.D. Penn., entered February 26, 2019). A Florida federal court approved a $3.4 million settlement between a consumer class and the company, including $1.1 million in attorney's fees. In Pennsylvania, a federal court granted preliminary approval to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by a class of financial institutions that reimbursed customers for fraudulent transactions. Wendy's will pay $50 million under the settlement agreement.