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.
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