A federal court in California has dismissed in part putative class claims filed by a man who alleges that Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. white chocolate products do not contain the requisite white chocolate ingredients to be labeled and promoted as such. Miller v. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., No. C 12-04936 LB (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal, San Francisco Div., decided December 6, 2012). The court agreed with Ghirardelli that the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue claims relating to four products that he did not purchase. According to the complaint, the plaintiff bought a package of “Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips Classic White” and sought recovery on behalf of a class of purchasers of that product as well as white chocolate wafers, ground white chocolate flavor, a mocha mix, and a frappé product.
Noting that controlling authority is lacking on whether plaintiffs have standing for products they did not purchase, the court discussed two lines of cases: one in which federal courts have held that as a matter of law plaintiffs lack standing to assert such claims and the other, the majority of courts, that carefully analyze the question and find that standing can be established to assert claims for unnamed class members if “the products and alleged misrepresentations are substantially similar.” The court found that the products here were not sufficiently similar. Refusing to dismiss the remaining claims pertaining to the baking chips on preemption, insufficient pleading or failure to state a claim grounds, the court gave the plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint.