A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging Whole Foods Market Group overcharged its customers for some pre- packaged foods, finding that the plaintiffs failed to specify any particular transactions in which the grocer overcharged them. In re Whole Foods Mkt. Grp., Inc. Overcharging Litig., No. 15-5838 (S.D.N.Y., order entered March 1, 2016). The complaint was filed after the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced the results of its investigation into “systemic overcharging” at Whole Foods stores across the city.
The plaintiffs alleged that they “regularly purchased”—“one or two times per month”—pre-packaged products from Whole Foods that the DCA identified in its press release, including cheese, cupcakes and chicken fingers. The court took issue with the plaintiffs’ reliance on the DCA press release, finding that its “statements fall very far short of reporting an investigative finding of ubiquitous, systematic over-weighting at Whole Foods’ New York City stores. Rather, the Press Release’s self-described ‘snapshot’ , fairly read, reports multiple but not invariable incidents of this deceptive labeling practice. It does not provide any basis on which to infer across-the-board overcharging so as to embrace, other than by conjecture, the cheese and cupcakes, or the chicken fingers, that [the plaintiffs] occasionally bought in 2014 and 2015.” The court found the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue based on their allegations and dismissed the case with prejudice.