A federal court in Illinois has determined that a plaintiff claiming that he would not have paid a premium for a product advertised as “heart healthy,” “0 grams trans fat” and “wholesome” had he known it actually contained trans fats, has standing to pursue his false advertising claims under state law. Askin v. The Quaker Oats Co., No. 11 CV 111 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., E. Div., decided October 12, 2011). Citing a recent Seventh Circuit decision in which the court found standing under similar circumstances, that is, an affirmative product representation and allegations that consumers paid more for the product than they would have had they known of its purported risks, the court ruled that alleged economic harm alone is redressable and confers standing.
The court deferred ruling on the defendant’s argument that the named plaintiff in this putative class action cannot file a lawsuit under Illinois law because he is a resident of and purchased the products in New York. Noting that this is a merits-based argument and not a matter of standing, the court indicated that it would reserve ruling on the issue until it resolves the defendant’s motion to dismiss under the first-to-file rule. Apparently, Quaker Oats has also urged the court to dismiss the claims on the ground that they are duplicative of claims filed earlier in California. The named plaintiffs from the California actions have moved to intervene to file their own motion to dismiss under the first-to-file rule.