Tag Archives Illinois

A federal court has dismissed multidistrict litigation alleging that several brands' “100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” misled consumers because the products contained as much as 8.8 percent cellulose, finding that the claims were “doomed by the readily accessible ingredient panels on the products that disclose the presence of non-cheese ingredients.” In Re: 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. 16-5802 (N.D. Ill., entered August 24, 2017). Additional details about the litigation appear in Issues 595 and 606 of this Update. The court found the cheese's label was ambiguous, noting, “Although 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese might be interpreted as saying the product is 100% cheese and nothing else, it also might be an assertion that 100% of the cheese is parmesan cheese, or that the parmesan cheese is 100% grated. Reasonable consumers would thus need more information before concluding that the labels promised only cheese and nothing more, and…

A federal court has dismissed with prejudice a putative class action alleging that Quaker Oats’ use of “100% Natural” on its products misleads consumers, holding that the plaintiffs’ claims are expressly preempted by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Gibson v. Quaker Oats Co., No. 16-4853 (N.D. Ill., entered August 14, 2017). The plaintiffs alleged that Quaker’s use of “natural” was misleading under several state statutes because the products contained residues of the herbicide glyphosate. The court held that nutritional and food labeling is governed by the FDCA, preempting the plaintiffs' state law claims, which were “attempting to challenge how food stuffs are marketed." In addition, the court held that the FDCA expressly governs the presence of pesticide and herbicide residues in food, “establishing a clear and manifest purpose that preempts state regulation of food labeling.” The court also found the plaintiffs had no standing to pursue claims related…

A KFC Corp. franchisee that sells halal chicken has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging the franchise agreements did not disclose a purported company policy preventing franchisees from making religious claims about their food. Lokhandwala v. KFC Corp., No. 17-5394 (N.D. Ill., filed July 24, 2017). The plaintiff, who owns and operates eight franchises, began advertising and selling halal chicken in 2003, and KFC allegedly assisted with locating approved poultry suppliers and distributors of halal-certified chicken. In 2016, the plaintiff asserts, the company informed him that it had a policy dating back to 2009 prohibiting religious claims about KFC products, “citing a risk of lawsuits and consumer confusion.” The plaintiff alleges the policy was not disclosed in any of his franchise agreements, violating the Illinois Franchise Disclosure Act; he further alleges that his “customer base and business revenue is heavily dependent on the sale of Halal chicken to the Muslim community”…

A sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax will go into effect in Chicago and surrounding suburbs following a Cook County court's dissolution of a temporary restraining order and dismissal of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association's lawsuit alleging the tax violated the state’s constitution. Illinois Retail Merchs. Ass’n v. Cook Cty. Dep’t of Revenue, No. 2017L050596 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., order entered June 28, 2017). The 1-cent-per-ounce tax was scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, but its implementation was postponed by the restraining order, which was upheld by the state appeals court. More details about the tax appear in Issues 622 and 640 of this Update. See Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2017.   Issue 642

The Illinois Appellate Court has upheld a temporary restraining order that stopped a proposed one-cent per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) from going into effect in Cook County on July 1, 2017. Illinois Retail Merchs. Ass’n v. Cook Cty. Dep’t of Revenue, No. 2017L050596 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., filed June 27, 2017). The Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed for the order along with preliminary and permanent injunctions against imposition of the tax, arguing it violates the uniformity clause of the state constitution and is unconstitutionally vague. The plaintiffs allege that the tax applies to distributors and retailers who sell bottled sweetened beverages and syrups or powders used to produce SSBs but not to SSBs prepared by hand, such as those made by baristas, even if they contain more sugar than a comparable bottled or “pre-made” product.   Issue 640

Candy maker Fannie May faces a proposed class action alleging the confectioner underfilled some of its 7-­ounce chocolate boxes by as much as 50 percent. Benson v. Fannie May, No. 17­-3519 (N.D. Ill., filed May 10, 2017). The allegations involve boxes of Hot Fudge Truffles, Mint Meltaways , Peanut Butter Buckeyes, milk and dark Sea Salt Caramels, regular and bite­-sized Pixies , milk and dark Carmarsh and Trinidads sold at the company’s retail stores and on its website as well as other retail and online outlets nationwide. The plaintiffs allege that nonfunctional slack-­fill in the company’s nontransparent boxes violates the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as well as Illinois consumer ­protection statutes and seek class certification, equitable relief, monetary damages and attorney's fees.   Issue 634

Four cities and one county have reportedly passed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), joining Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in adopting measures purportedly designed to curb sugary-drink consumption. According to media sources, voters in Boulder, Colorado, passed a 2-cent-per-ounce excise tax on SSB distributors, while those in San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, California, passed a 1-cent-per-ounce levy on distributors. In Cook County, Illinois, the board of commissioners also voted in favor of a 1-cent-per-ounce SSB tax. “The tide has turned on this issue, and momentum has swung in our favor,” said Howard Wolfson, senior advisor to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I am confident in the months ahead more municipalities will seek to implement soda taxes to help their citizens, and we will be willing to help them as they do.” See The New York Times, November 9, 2016; Crain’s Chicago Business, November 10, 2016.   Issue 622

Two horse owners have filed a lawsuit against Archer Daniels MidlandCo. alleging feed produced by its subsidiary, ADM Alliance Nutrition, was contaminated with monensin, a cattle-feed additive poisonous to horses. Berarov v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., No. 16-7355 (N.D. Ill., filed July19, 2016). The plaintiffs argue that ADM knowingly manufactured cattle feed containing monensin in the same facility as its horse feed and supplement production, resulting in cross-contamination between the two. The complaint details the effects of monensin on horses, including equine heart failure and other major organ damage, which the plaintiffs argue can occur with doses as low as 1.38 mg/kg of body weight. In a statement,ADM disputed this toxicity level, arguing that a horse can safely consume 9.5 mg/kg of body mass, according to the complaint. For allegations of negligent misrepresentation, strict product liability, unjust enrichment, breach of warranties and violations of Illinois consumer-protection laws, the plaintiffs seek class…

A consumer has filed a putative class action against The Quaker Oats Co. alleging the company misrepresents its oatmeal products as natural and “eco-friendly” despite containing glyphosate, “a potent herbicide that last year was declared a probable human carcinogen by the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization.” Wheeler v. Quaker Oats Co., No. 16-5776 (N.D. Ill., removed to federal court June 1, 2016). The complaint argues that although “[t]here is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the company has misled consumers by claiming “that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products.” The plaintiff asserts that no reasonable consumer would believe that Quaker’s products “contain anything unnatural, or anything other than whole, rolled oats” after seeing Quaker’s packaging and advertising. For allegations of unjust enrichment, breach of warranties and violations of Illinois’ consumer-protection…

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a data breach lawsuit against P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., finding that the two plaintiffs have standing to sue despite eating at a restaurant apparently not linked to the breach. Lewert v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., No. 14-3700 (7th Cir., order entered April 14, 2016). Additional details about the breach appear in Issue 526 of this Update. The plaintiffs ate at an Illinois location of P.F. Chang’s two months before the company announced its payment system had been hacked, revealing personal information and credit card numbers. One plaintiff noticed fraudulent charges on his card and purchased credit-monitoring services, while the other alleged that he spent time and effort monitoring his card statements and credit report. Each brought separate lawsuits, which were later consolidated then dismissed for lack of standing. Following its announcement about the data breach, P.F. Chang’s identified 33 restaurants…

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