False advertising and labeling consumer class actions filed against consumer packaged goods companies have surged in the last few years, with more than 300 new cases filed each year since 2021. More than a quarter of these have been filed in California federal courts. A key question in many of these cases is what information the reasonable consumer would read and rely on from the product packaging. In June 2023, the Ninth Circuit weighed in on this topic, providing helpful guidance to companies.
Recent FDA guidance for determining and declaring the protein grams in a serving has helped muscle a class action out of federal court. …
Continue Reading FDA Boosts Protein Preemption Defense
This article was originally published on Food Navigator on January 13, 2021.
If your company sells any vanilla-flavored food or beverage product, then you are probably aware of the innumerable class action cases that have been filed over the last 18 months attacking these products – 67 cases by our count. Here, we trace the history of this litigation and the outcomes achieved to date. …
Continue Reading The Scoop on All that Vanilla Flavor Litigation
The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in McGee v. S-L Snacks Nat’l,., confirms that nutrition fact panel and ingredient disclosures provide information that can be used to support a motion to dismiss and remain important tools for defeating consumer class actions.
Continue Reading It’s Not Pop Secret, Ninth Circuit Affirms that Plaintiff Didn’t Have a Leg to Stand On
The plaintiffs’ bar has continued to challenge sourcing and sustainability claims made by food manufacturers. In Ehlers v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80773 (D. Vt. May 7, 2020), however, the court dismissed such a challenge where the allegedly false statement was taken out of context and the plaintiff ignored the totality of the company’s representations. “A plaintiff who alleges that he was deceived by an advertisement may not misquote or misleadingly excerpt the language of the advertisement in his pleadings and expect his action to survive a motion to dismiss.” This case should help companies fend off similar claims in the future. …
Continue Reading “Happy Cows” False Labeling Theory is Just “Half Baked”: Court Dismisses False Advertising Claims Against Ben & Jerry’s
The California Court of Appeal recently made it more difficult for plaintiffs to certify class actions based on false advertising or fraud. In Downey v. Public Storage, Inc., Case No. B291662, ___Cal.App.5th___ (Feb. 6, 2020), the Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying class certification on the grounds that issues of deception and reliance were not susceptible to common proof.
In March 2015, several plaintiffs filed a class action against Public Storage, alleging that its $1 promotional rate was deceptive, violated California’s Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. § 17200 et seq.), and constituted a false advertisement. In particular, the plaintiffs alleged that the $1 promotional rate was deceptive because customers had to pay more than $1 for their first month of storage due to (1) having to pay for a new account fee, (2) being charged for a second month’s rent on the first day of the next calendar month, (3) having to pay for a lock for their storage unit, and (4) having to pay for insurance coverage. …
Continue Reading California Court Sets High Bar For Class Certification In False Advertising Cases
Last week, in what may be the first of its kind, a putative class of Massachusetts consumers filed a false labeling class action complaint against Global Widget LLC, d/b/a Hemp Bombs (“Hemp Bombs”) (Ahumada v. Global Widget LLC, D. Mass. Case No. 1:19-cv-12005), challenging the labeling of numerous Hemp Bombs products, including gummies, lollipops, capsules, syrup, vape and pet products.
Continue Reading CBD Industry Beware: The False Labeling Class Action Has Arrived
In the last few months, a handful of class actions have been filed challenging label claims regarding the treatment of the animals providing the food item in question. This appears to be a new food litigation trend, as plaintiffs’ attorneys invoke the purchasing public’s apparent concern for “clean”, “pure”, “healthy”, and “organic” food items. …
Continue Reading Spate of Recent False Advertising Class Actions Take On Animal Treatment Label Claims
Challenges based on lack of standing can be brought at any time and, in Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127964 (N.D. Cal. July 31, 2019), the court dismissed a putative class action for lack of standing pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) after Plaintiffs supplemented discovery responses and depositions were taken. Although it had earlier denied motions to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the district court concluded that Plaintiffs failed to produce evidence in discovery to establish their injury in fact and, accordingly, lacked standing under Article III. …
Continue Reading Lack of Standing Dooms Organizational Plaintiffs’ False Advertising Claims; Such a Challenge Can Be Brought at Any Time
The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Sonner v. Schwabe N. Am., Inc. et al., resolves a split among district courts evaluating the standard that applies to false labeling claims brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act on summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit confirmed that plaintiffs can survive summary judgment by supplying a conflicting expert report, invalidating a line of cases that required plaintiff’s expert to also entirely undermine defendant’s expert.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Confirms Plaintiffs Are Not Required to Undermine Defendant’s Evidence to Withstand Summary Judgment in False Labeling Class Actions
In Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp., plaintiff Durnford asserted that the company’s “Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass” supplements are falsely labeled because the protein content of the supplements is misstated. Durnford brought claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), False Advertising Law (“FAL”) Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) and for breach of express warranty. The district court dismissed these claims, finding them preempted by federal law. However, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of Durnford’s claims effectively reviving them, albeit on a narrower basis. Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp., No. 16-15374, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. 2018), 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28771.
Continue Reading “I’ll Be Back;” Ninth Circuit Gives Arnold Schwarzenegger-Branded Supplement Purchasers Another Shot to Pursue UCL, FAL, CLRA and Warranty Claims