Our notable ruling roundup aims to keep our readers up to date on recent rulings in the food & consumer packaged goods space.

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Lindsay Finster v. Sephora USA Inc., No. 6:22-cv-01187 (N.D.N.Y. – March 15, 2024): The Northern District of New York dismissed a putative class action alleging that the marketing and labeling of defendant’s “Clean at Sephora” campaign leads consumers to believe that cosmetics bearing the representation did not contain any ingredients that were synthetic or connected to causing physical harm. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendant materially misled consumers as nowhere on the label or in the marketing materials did defendant make any claim that the products are free of all synthetic or harmful ingredients. The court also concluded that plaintiff had failed to provide adequate pre-suit notice and failed to plead with adequate particularity under Rule 9(b). Opinion available here.

In re Trader Joe’s Company Dark Chocolate Litigation, No. 3:23-cv-00061-RBM-KSC (S.D. Cal. – March 27, 2024): The Southern District of California trimmed a putative class action alleging defendant’s dark chocolate products contain undisclosed lead, cadmium, and arsenic (the “heavy metals”). The court concluded that plaintiffs had plausibly alleged a reasonable consumer could be misled by the lack of any disclosure on the products indicating that they contain heavy metals when they contain the levels of heavy metals based on the allegations. The court noted that it must accept as true that the products actually contain undisclosed heavy metals. The court further reasoned that the determination of what level of heavy metals would be misleading to a reasonable consumer is a question not amenable to resolution on a motion to dismiss, writing that “[t]he court is not inclined to pick a threshold level of each Heavy Metal in each Product at which a reasonable consumer would be misled by the absence of a label disclosing its presence, particularly in ruling on a motion to dismiss.” Opinion available here.

If you are a food or CPG company contact interested in receiving our daily email update on filings and notable rulings, please reach out to Kellie Hale with your request to be added: khale@perkinscoie.com.

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Photo of David T. Biderman David T. Biderman

David Biderman, a partner in Perkins Coie’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, focuses his practice on mass tort litigation and consumer class actions. He heads the firm’s Mass Tort and Consumer Litigation group. He has represented a wide variety of companies in…

David Biderman, a partner in Perkins Coie’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, focuses his practice on mass tort litigation and consumer class actions. He heads the firm’s Mass Tort and Consumer Litigation group. He has represented a wide variety of companies in state and federal courts in California for 30 years.

On consumer class actions, David represents packaged food companies, coffee companies, dairy companies, footwear companies and others whose nutritional or health claims have been challenged. He also has represented search engines and other online companies. He has a record of favorable results for clients. He successfully tried a major consumer fraud class action on behalf of one of the world’s major search engines in a case involving online gambling advertisements. For that same client, he negotiated a favorable settlement of a class action challenging its online advertising pricing. He represented a major coffee retailer in defeating a class action on standing grounds. He also has litigated pre-emption defenses arising out of food labeling and obtained a dismissal for a client whose nutritional statements were challenged.

For fifteen years, David managed the firm’s full-service product liability team responsible for defending over 1,000 toxic tort cases pending in Los Angeles and Northern California state courts. These cases entailed ongoing trial activity at various levels for several trials set each month. The highly experienced and well-coordinated team has handled thousands of asbestos toxic tort cases for a variety of clients, including FORTUNE 500 companies from such industries as consumer products, aerospace manufacturing, household goods, dry cleaning and industries that generate electromagnetic fields, such as electric utilities and operators of wireless communications systems.

Photo of Tommy Tobin Tommy Tobin

Thomas Tobin’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and class action matters involving statutory, constitutional, and regulatory issues in a range of industries, including food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and cannabis. In the food and beverage sector, Tommy has experience defending false…

Thomas Tobin’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and class action matters involving statutory, constitutional, and regulatory issues in a range of industries, including food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and cannabis. In the food and beverage sector, Tommy has experience defending false advertising claims and consumer protection claims for well-known international corporations.