Two putative class actions alleging that companies making and selling extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) sell their products at a premium despite their failure to meet certain EVOO standards have been dismissed by a federal court in Florida because the plaintiffs did not adequately plead their claims under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). Meyer v. Colavita USA, Inc., No. 10-61781, Nachio v. Am. Rice Inc., No. 10-61793 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Fla., decided September 13, 2011). The defendants claimed in their motions to dismiss that the complaints were based on a flawed UC Davis study that analyzed a small sample of olive oil purchased in California and that the plaintiffs failed to either allege that the products they purchased were not EVOO as the companies claimed or that they had been harmed.
The court agreed that the UC Davis results were inconclusive and possibly flawed and that the plaintiffs failed “to plead anything other than unwarranted deductions of fact in support of their claims that Defendants have engaged in a deceptive act or unfair practice. Plaintiffs do not allege facts suggesting that the olive oil they purchased was not actually extra virgin olive oil. They do not plead facts indicating when, where, and what type of olive oil they purchased and whether the actual olive oil they purchased conformed with the identified standards. Rather, Plaintiffs support their claims with speculation and unwarranted extrapolation from the UC Davis Study’s findings.” The court also noted, “There are no allegations that anyone in Florida purchased extra virgin olive oil that tasted bad, or was tested and failed to meet certain standards, or was in any other way ‘fake.’”
Because the plaintiffs also failed to notify the defendants about their breach of warranty claims before filing suit, the court determined that those claims must be dismissed for failure to state a claim.