A federal court in California has denied Chipotle Mexican Grill’s motion to dismiss putative class claims alleging that the company fraudulently represents that it uses only naturally raised meat in its menu items. Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 12-5543 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., order entered August 23, 2012). According to the court, “Plaintiff need not show that he consumed non-naturally raised meat on one of his visits to Chipotle [because] the harm alleged [is that] Plaintiff purchased food at Chipotle, at a premium, based on Defendant’s representations that non-naturally raised meat was not used there.”  

The court also determined that the plaintiff adequately alleged a claim for fraudulent concealment and denied as premature that part of the defendant’s motion addressing the class allegations. The court did, however, order briefing on whether plaintiff’s counsel “would be adequate counsel to represent the class if a class were certified.” In this regard, the court observed, “it appears an early preliminary determination of whether Plaintiff’s counsel would be adequate class counsel would serve the interests of the putative class and of judicial economy.” Among other matters, the court indicated that plaintiff’s counsel’s response should provide any agreement between the plaintiff and counsel, “any agreement relating to this action with any other person or entity, and counsel’s proposal for terms for attorney’s fees and nontaxable costs.”