A California federal court has dismissed a putative class action against Dr Pepper Snapple Group without prejudice, finding the plaintiff may be able to amend her complaint to “plausibly allege” that aspartame causes weight gain. Becerra v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp., No. 17-5921 (N.D. Cal., entered March 30, 2018). Although the plaintiff is not required to “scientifically prove causation at the pleading stage,” the court found, the studies she cited “do not allege causation at all—at best, they support merely a correlation or relationship between artificial sweeteners and weight gain, or risk of weight gain . . .  [b]ut correlation is not causation, neither for purposes of science nor the law.” The court dismissed the plaintiff’s unfair competition claims, finding her “theory of deception fails to pass the ‘reasonable consumer’ test” because Diet Dr Pepper is not marketed as a weight-loss or weight-management product and is a “diet” product in relation to Dr Pepper because it contains fewer calories. “A reasonable consumer knows that this is and has always been true of soft drinks generally,” the court held. For the same reasons, the court found that the plaintiff’s claims for express and implied warranty also failed.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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