False ECJ Claims Against Amy’s Kitchen Narrowed
A federal court in Florida has dismissed putative class claims in a consumer-fraud lawsuit to the extent they involve allegedly false “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ) labeling on Amy’s Kitchen food products that the named plaintiff did not purchase, but has otherwise allowed the remaining claims to proceed. Reilly v. Amy’s Kitchen, Inc., No. 13-21525 (S.D. Fla., order entered December 9, 2013).
According to the court, in the Eleventh Circuit, plaintiffs have standing to assert claims based only on products they actually purchase thus rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that (i) she could bring claims involving products nearly identical to the purchased product and (ii) the issue was one of typicality and representation best resolved at the class certification stage. Because the plaintiff purchased just three Amy’s Kitchen products with ECJ listed as an ingredient on the label, she will be unable to pursue claims as to 57 other products.
The court rejected the company’s arguments that (i) the plaintiff failed to state a claim for per se violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA); (ii) the court should dismiss the action and defer to the Food and Drug Administration under the primary jurisdiction doctrine; (iii) the plaintiff failed to plead any facts supporting the claim that use of ECJ on a product label is misleading, finding that whether consumers were misled is a question of fact that cannot be resolved in a motion to dismiss; (iv) the plaintiff’s allegations about monetary losses and price inflation are too speculative to constitute an injury in fact; (v) ECJ is an ingredient’s common or usual name, noting that “the mere fact that the term ECJ was trademarked also fails to establish that Defendant’s use of this name was not false and misleading”; and (vi) the plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim fails because it is based on the same conduct as her FDUTPA claim.