New York and New Jersey residents have filed a putative class action in an Illinois federal court against the company that makes a line of kefir dairy products, alleging that they are falsely promoted as providing “clinically proven therapeutic benefits for various health conditions.” Keatley v. Lifeway Foods, Inc., No. 12CV3521 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., E. Div., filed May 8, 2012).  

According to the complaint, Lifeway claims, without adequate proof, that its kefir products containing ProBoost, “an exclusive blend of live and active probiotic cultures,” can support immunity, enhance digestion, boost wellbeing, alleviate diarrhea, and otherwise address autoimmune disorders, bad breath, celiac disease, Crohn’s and colitis, high cholesterol, immune deficiency, infantile colic, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, seasonal allergies, and yeast infections. The plaintiffs contend that they would not have purchased the products if they had known that ProBoost products “did not have the quality, health benefits or value as promised.”  

Seeking to certify a nationwide class and two state subclasses of consumers, the plaintiffs allege violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act; unjust enrichment; breach of express warranty; intentional misrepresentation; fraudulent concealment/nondisclosure; and violations of Illinois, New Jersey and New York consumer protection laws. They seek declaratory and injunctive relief; compensatory, treble and punitive damages exceeding $5 million; interest; restitution; attorney’s fees; and costs.