A recent putative class action regarding edible cannabidiol (CBD) products reminds potential plaintiffs of the importance of pleading with particularity.

On behalf of a putative class of consumers, a purchaser alleged that Bhang Medicinal Chocolates contained a smaller quantity of CBD than the product advertised. Plaintiff asserted that he had independent lab testing to support

Perkins Coie is pleased to present its fourth annual Food Litigation Year in Review 2019, offering a summary of the past year’s key litigation outcomes, regulatory developments, and filing data. Using metrics from our proprietary database, developed by our food litigation team in order to track and understand trends in this area, 2019’s Year in Review again reports an increase in class action litigation, with a record-breaking 173 new lawsuits filed. The upward filing trends in the class action landscape are mirrored in other industries and in the prosecution of related claims: putative class actions against the pet food and dietary supplement industries were on the rise in 2019, as were Proposition 65 warning notices.
Continue Reading Food Litigation Year in Review 2019

Perkins Coie is pleased to present its third annual Food Litigation Year in Review, offering a summary of the year’s key litigation outcomes, regulatory developments, and filing data. Last year, pointing to uncertainty at the appellate level, Perkins Coie predicted continued litigation in 2018. Using metrics from our proprietary database, developed by our food

Just two and a half months after the Northern District of California ruled that a reasonable consumer would not be misled to believe “Diet Coke” aids in weight loss, a similar suit against Pepsi-Cola for its Diet Pepsi product has been dismissed (Manuel v. Pepsi-Cola Company). This is the fourth ruling in the past three months dismissing similar claims.

On Thursday, May 17, the Southern District of New York’s Judge Paul A. Engelmayer entered an order granting Pepsi’s motion to dismiss. The class alleged that Pepsi misrepresented its products with the label “diet,” a word that may signify to consumers that the product aids in weight loss. The Court held that nothing in Pepsi’s labeling or advertising claims suggested that the product would assist a consumer in weight loss or weight management. The Court referenced what a reasonable consumer would think – “diet does not stand in isolation,” it said. As such, the Court stated, reasonable consumers would realize that “diet” in the context of a soda means a lower caloric count and that lower caloric count does not mean weight loss.


Continue Reading Notable Ruling: Another Motion to Dismiss for Diet Soda

In yet another Rule 12 decision tied to the “reasonable consumer” standard, Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class action against Coca-Cola challenging the name “Diet Coke” as misleading. Plaintiff in the lawsuit, Shana Becerra, alleged that the product name “Diet Coke,” which has been in regular use since 1982, might mislead consumers into believing that merely drinking Diet Coke will necessarily lead to weight loss. The complaint cited scientific studies which the plaintiff claimed to show that consuming diet sodas actually leads to weight gain.

Continue Reading Notable Ruling: A Swift Win for Coca-Cola in Becerra v. Coca-Cola (N.D. Cal.)

Parties Settle Kombucha False Advertising Action

Retta, et al. v. Millennium Products, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-01801 (C.D. Cal.): The Ninth Circuit entered an order granting Objector-Appellant’s motion for voluntary dismissal of this putative class action for violations of California’s CLRA, UCL, and FAL, as well as New York’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s kombucha beverages are falsely and misleadingly labeled, representing the products as containing antioxidants when in fact the beverages “do not have even a single nutrient that the FDA recognizes and approves of for labeling statements using the term ‘antioxidant.’”
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – January 30, 2018

Court Grants Motion to Dismiss Class Action Involving Organic Baby Formula

Organic Consumers Association v. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., No. 1:16-cv-00925 (D.D.C.): The Court entered an order granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action for violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant’s “Earth’s Best” brand infant and toddler formula is falsely and misleadingly labeled “organic,” when it in fact contains several ingredients that are not permitted in organic food products, among them, ascorbyl palmitate, zinc sulfate, sodium selenite, and taurine.
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – January 10, 2018

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Class Action Involving Healthfulness of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Traction v. Viva Labs, Inc., No. 3:16-cv-02772 (S.D. Cal.): The Court issued an order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action for violation of California’s CLRA, UCL, FAC and breach of express and implied warranties. Plaintiff alleges Defendant misleadingly labels and markets its Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil as healthy, and as a healthy alternative to butter and other cooking oils, despite that it is actually inherently unhealthy and a less healthy alternative. The Court denied the motion based on lack of standing and declined to dismiss Plaintiff’s UCL, FAL, and CLRA claims based on the reasonable consumer test.  The Court also denied the motion with respect to Plaintiff’s UCL unlawful claim, and breach of express and implied warranty claims.
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – October 9, 2017

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss in False Advertising Action Involving Iced Tea

Martin, et al. v. TradeWinds Beverage Company, No. 2:16-cv-09249 (C.D. Cal.): The Court entered an order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action for violations of California’s CLRA, UCL, FAL, and for breach of express warranty. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants falsely advertised that its iced tea is labeled as “All Natural,” when in fact, it contains artificial coloring, caramel color.

The Court rejected Defendant’s argument that Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the doctrines of express preemption, conflict preemption, field preemption, and implied preemption on the grounds that the FDA, vested by Congress with the sole authority to regulate the use, manufacture, and labeling of color additives, has the first and last word on the issue of color additives. Similarly, the Court rejected Defendant’s argument that its compliance with the FDA’s labeling requirements for caramel coloring provides it a safe harbor under California law. The Court also found that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a misleading statement. Finally, the Court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss on the basis that the First Amendment protects its commercial speech.
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – September 18, 2017

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss for Non-Functional Slack-Fill Class Action

White v. Just Born, Inc., No. 2:17-cv-4025 (W.D. Mo.): The Court issued an order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative non-functional slack-fill class action for violation of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, and raising a claim for unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant misleads consumers about the amount of Hot Tamales candy and Mike and Ike candy inside their opaque, cardboard packaging. Defendant moved to dismiss arguing that: (1) a reasonable consumer would not be deceived by the packaging; (2) slack-fill is not by itself impermissible under federal or state law, violation of food-labeling regulations does not support a finding of liability under the MMPA, and Plaintiff does not sufficiently allege that the slack-fill is non-functional or deceptive; (3) Plaintiff lacks standing to pursue injunctive relief; and (4) Plaintiff fails to state an ascertainable injury under the MMPA. In denying the motion, the Court held that the question of whether a consumer would determine from the labeling information that the boxes contain excess slack-filled space is a question of fact that Plaintiff had sufficiently plead its claims. It further held that Defendant plead a threat of ongoing or future harm, sufficient to establish standing.
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – August 4, 2017