New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has reportedly signed a law banning single-use plastic and paper bags and imposing limits on other food containers and straws. Effective May 2022, the law will ban the use of polystyrene food and drink containers, and single-use plastic straws may only be provided upon request beginning in November 2021. Some products will be exempt until 2024, including meat and fish trays, food prepackaged in polystyrene by the manufacturer, polystyrene soda spoons used for thick drinks and portion cups for foods requiring a lid.
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 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.
Kervan USA has agreed to change the packaging of its Sunkist fruit snacks and the shape of its candy following a lawsuit filed by Promotion in Motion Inc., which produces Welch's fruit snacks. Promotion in Motion Inc. v. Kervan USA LLC, No. 18-11670 (D.N.J., entered November 6, 2018). Kervan will change the background color of the packages for its fruit snacks to avoid confusion with packages of Welch's fruit snacks, and it will change the shape of its watermelon candies to avoid the use of the "distinctive three-dimensional trapezoid shape" of Promotion in Motion's Sour Jacks. Kervan will also sell off its existing supply of allegedly infringing products and destroy any remaining units after 90 days.
Promotion in Motion Inc., which produces Welch’s Fruit Snacks, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Kervan USA's packaging and product design for Sunkist Fruit Gummies infringe its trademarks and trade dress. Promotion in Motion Inc., v. Kervan USA LLC, No. 18-11670 (D.N.J., filed July 16, 2018). Although Sunkist Fruit Gummies have not been released, Kervan has publicly displayed the intended packaging at trade shows and online, Promotion in Motion alleges, and it asserts that the packaging “closely copies” the Welch's packaging by using similar design elements and color as well as the identical claim “Fruit is our 1st Ingredient.” Promotion in Motion also contends that Kervan imports and distributes a wedge-shaped sour watermelon candy under various product labels that violates the trade dress of its Sour Jacks, which is advertised with the slogan “Respect the Wedge” and an emphasis on the candy’s shape. Alleging trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of…
A federal court has denied a motion to reconsider a denial of class certification in a lawsuit alleging that Tropicana Products Inc. mislabeled its orange juice as “natural.” In re Tropicana Orange Juice Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. 11-7382 (D.N.J., entered May 24, 2018). The plaintiffs argued that the court misconstrued its theory of liability, gave more weight to the defendant’s expert opinions, overlooked evidence of class-wide injury and erred in its ascertainability analysis. The court ruled that because the plaintiffs “exhaustively alleged” that the juice contained added flavoring, whether the product conforms to the standard of identity for pasteurized orange juice "lies at the heart of Plaintiff’s theory of liability as articulated by Plaintiffs’ own words.” Finding the claims unsupported by the pleadings, the court found no cause for reconsideration. The court also pointed to an expert opinion showing variation in the reasoning behind consumer decisions to buy the…
A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit alleging Panera Bread Co. sold her salad greens contaminated with E. coli, causing her to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome after she consumed the meal. Fraser v. Freshway Foods, Inc., No. 18-7734 (D.N.J., filed April 16, 2018). Filed against Panera and its lettuce supplier Freshway Foods Inc., the complaint asserts that Panera sold contaminated lettuce sourced from Yuma, Arizona, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked to an E. coli outbreak. Alleging the lettuce was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” in violation of the New Jersey Products Liability Act, the plaintiff seeks damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses and attorney’s fees.
Kosher Supervision Services Inc. (Kof-K) has filed a complaint alleging Original Gourmet Food Co. used the “Kof-K” kosher certification mark on its product without authorization, alleging the snack maker’s action was “intentional and willful use of a counterfeit of the Kof-K mark.” Kosher Supervision Servs. v. Original Gourmet Food Co., No. 18-2487 (D.N.J., filed February 22, 2018). Kof-K asserts that it never contracted with Original Gourmet, approved or certified any of its products as kosher, or granted permission for its use of the certification mark. Alleging trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution of famous mark, unfair competition, Kof-K seeks injunctive relief, damages and a finding that the case is “exceptional” to permit an award of attorney’s fees.