The range of products targeted in recent false advertising class actions ran the gamut from baseball bats to a messaging app to soup.
In his Illinois federal court complaint, Theodore Sheeley alleged that Wilson Sporting Goods tricked parents into purchasing baseball bats by claiming they met national requirements for use in youth leagues and tournaments. But an audit revealed that several models—including some of the company’s more expensive bats, with price tags of $350 or higher—did not actually meet the standards set by the United States Specialty Sports Association.
The bat prominently displayed a silver sticker certifying that it was USSSA compliant. Had he known the standards had not been met, Sheeley would not have purchased one of the bats for his son. He requested monetary damages for a class of those who purchased the misleadingly advertised baseball bats.
Popular messaging app Confide also faces litigation that accused the company of deceiving consumers by offering a confidential means of sending digital communications without fear of their communications being monitored or recorded.
Although the app claims to block screenshots where possible and take other steps to protect messages when they can’t be completely blocked, “the App fails to protect communications its users send through it, and it fails to offer the unequivocal confidentiality advertised by Confide,” according to Jeremy Auman’s New York federal court complaint.
Absent the promised ephemerality and screenshot protection, any Confide user accessing the platform through the app can take screenshots of any and all received messages, the plaintiff alleged, making Confide’s representations “patently false.” To recover the $6.99 monthly subscription he paid for the app—along with an estimated “millions” of other putative class members—Auman requested monetary damages (including punitive damages where available) as well as injunctive relief to stop the allegedly wrongful acts.
And in Florida federal court, a consumer continued the focus on challenging “all natural” claims by hitting Tabatchnick Fine Foods with a lawsuit accusing the company of mislabeling 19 different soups. Although the company described the products as “handcrafted soups made from the highest quality, natural ingredients,” and labeled them as “ALL NATURAL,” the products in fact contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Jerome Ramsaran told the court.
Federal regulations define an all-natural product as one containing no artificial or synthetic ingredients, nor any ingredient that has been more than “minimally processed,” which by definition, Ramsaran argued, does not include the GMO versions of soy, corn and canola used by Tabatchnick.
The use of GMOs poses “a potential threat to consumers because medical research and scientific studies have yet to determine the long-term health effects of genetically engineered foods,” the plaintiff alleged. “Numerous studies suggest that GMOs may in fact be harmful to a consumer’s health.”
Seeking injunctive relief and damages, Ramsaran’s complaint hopes to certify a nationwide class estimated to run in the “many thousands.”
To read the complaint in Sheeley v. Wilson Sporting Goods, Co., click here.
To read the complaint in Auman v. Confide, Inc., click here.
To read the complaint in Ramsaran v. Tabatchnick Fine Foods, click here.
Why it matters: The three putative class actions represent the breadth of products targeted by false advertising litigation and demonstrate some of the current litigation trends.