A New Jersey federal court has dismissed putative class actions against Whole Foods Market Group Inc., Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and Acme Markets Inc. alleging that they misrepresented their bread products as “freshly baked” or “baked in-store” despite actually being frozen, processed or baked elsewhere. Mladenov v. Wegmans Food Mkts. Inc., No. 15-0373 (D.N.J., order entered August 26, 2015); Mladenov v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp. Inc., No. 15-0382 (D.N.J., order entered August 26, 2015); Mao v. Acme Markets Inc., No. 15-0618 (D.N.J., order entered August 26, 2015). Additional information about the three complaints appears in Issue 549 of this Update.
The court found holes in each of the plaintiffs’ amended complaints, noting that they lacked “any detail as to what Plaintiffs purchased, the cost of these items, and the supposed value of what they received,” which are necessary to a price-premium claim. “Nowhere in their complaints or opposition do Plaintiffs allege facts supporting an out-of-pocket loss, i.e. that the products they purchased were worthless,” the court said. “Plaintiffs, claiming to be health conscious consumers, do not even allege that the relevant products lacked nutritional value or were somehow less nutritious due to their not being made from scratch in store. Plaintiffs’ apparent dissatisfaction in the bread and bakery products they purchased, without more, does not suffice under this theory of ascertainable loss.” Further, the plaintiffs “seem to suggest that the products they purchased are more like pre-packaged bread than fresh bread, but that comparison fails.” Accordingly, the court dismissed the claims in all three lawsuits.