The litigation arena for the consumer products industry is as active as ever. Each newsletter we bring you a summary of the most important litigation developments from the past two months, from complaint filings and key court decisions to trial results and settlements. For more information about these and other developments, please visit our Food & Beverage Industry Tracking Report.

Filed

Lawsuit Challenges “Cold Pressed” and “Fresh Pressed” Claims on Lakewood Organic Juices

On March 21, 2017, a putative class action was filed against Florida Bottling Inc. on behalf of California consumers who purchased Lakewood Organic Juices bearing the phrases “cold pressed” and “fresh pressed” on their labels. The lawsuit alleges that the “cold pressed” and “fresh pressed” claims are false and misleading because Lakewood Juices are heat processed (pasteurized). Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to have all representations describing the juices as either “cold pressed” or “fresh pressed” removed. Shane v. Florida Bottling, Inc., No. 17-cv-2197 (C.D. Cal)

Coca-Cola and Odwalla, Inc. Hit with Lawsuit Challenging its “No Added Sugar” Claim

On March 24, 2017, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed against Odwalla, Inc., a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company, and the Coca-Cola Company alleging that defendants are misleading consumers about the nature of the ingredients in its “100% Juice” products as compared to similar products. At issue is the “No Added Sugar” claim which appears on the product labels of the Odwalla Juice products. According to the lawsuit, such labeling creates the impression amongst consumers that the products are healthier and of a superior quality than similar juices due to their lack of added sugar when, in reality, similar juice products do not contain added sugar either. Plaintiff alleged that she and class members paid a premium for the defendants’ products due to this alleged deceptive and misleading claim. Casey v. Odwalla, Inc. et al., No. 7:17-cv-2148 (S.D.NY)

Jelly Belly Candy Company Hit with ECJ Lawsuit

In February 2017, a false advertising class action lawsuit was filed against Jelly Belly Candy Company. The complaint alleges that the company lists “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient in Jelly Bean Sports Beans when the jelly beans actually contain sugar. The lawsuit was transferred to federal court in March 2017. Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the listing of “evaporated cane juice” and damages. Gomez v. Jelly Belly Candy Company, No. 5-17-cv-0575 (E.D.Cal)

Settled

Johnson & Johnson Reaches Settlement over Aveeno “Natural” Claims

In 2013, Johnson & Johnson was faced with a proposed class action in New York federal court where the plaintiff alleged that the company misleadingly advertised its Aveeno product as “natural” when, in reality, the product contain unnatural ingredients (glycerin, cetyl alcohol, and sodium hydroxide). On February 23, 2017, the parties filed a notice with the court that they have reached an agreement in principle, but no motion for approval of the class settlement has been filed to date. Goldemberg v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 13-cv-03073 (S.D.NY)

Dismissed/Stayed

Campbell’s Healthy Soup Labeling Suit Gets Tossed

On March 21, 2017, U.S. District Judge Robert T. Benitez of the Southern District of California dismissed a proposed class action against Campbell Soup Co., which alleged that the soup maker advertises its grilled chicken and sausage gumbo as healthy despite its trans-fat content. The consumers argued that despite containing unhealthy artificial trans fats, Campbell’s mislabels its gumbo to rebrand itself as a provider of healthy and nutritious foods, which caused consumers to pay extra for what they thought was a healthy product. The suit also alleged that Campbell’s failed to disclose that it paid for American Heart Association certification in violation of a USDA policy requiring companies to inform consumers when they compensate an organization or individual for an endorsement. The Judge ruled against the class, finding that the consumers’ claims imposed additional or different requirements from the USDA's Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and were therefore preempted. Bower et al. v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 3:16-cv-01005 (S.D. Cal.)