A federal court in Kansas has dismissed a putative class action filed against Applebee’s International, Inc. and Weight Watchers International, Inc., finding that the claims raised under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) were not sufficiently alleged. Shepard v. Applebee’s Int’l, Inc., No. 08-2416 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Kan., decided April 7, 2010). Details about the litigation, filed by a different named plaintiff, appear in issue 274 of this Update. The complaint alleged that the companies misrepresent the fat and calorie information in the dishes on the restaurateur’s “healthy” Weight Watchers® menu.
The court had previously dismissed the plaintiffs’ state law claims as preempted by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, and sustained in part a motion to dismiss their RICO claims. Thereafter, defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the remaining RICO claim, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to allege “racketeering activity” because they did not sufficiently allege predicate acts of mail and wire fraud. The only fraud claims that were alleged had already been ruled preempted, thus, the court agreed with defendants that predicate acts under RICO had not been sufficiently alleged. The court overruled the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification as moot.