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Tea drinkers allege false advertising in suit

By Carol Ostrow | Feb 2, 2015

| Shutterstock

Two consumers filed a class-action suit against a well-known tea manufacturer on Jan. 26, alleging false advertising in its product labeling.

Sandra Burga, of Orange County, California, and Alison Conforti, of Brooklyn, New York, brought a consumer protection and false advertising class-action complaint against the Hain Celestial group, Inc., alleging that certain products advertised as 100 percent natural by the Delaware-based company contain genetically modified (GMO) ingredients sourced from genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Burga and Conforti alleged that teas manufactured by the defendant containing ascorbic acid and soy lecithin do not meet the criteria for “natural” due to being sourced from genetically modified crops; that consumers paid a higher price because they believed the products were 100 percent natural and would not have done so with the knowledge that the teas contained artificial, synthetic ingredients sourced from GMO crops, a processed sweetener (stevia) and/or chemical contaminants.

Specific allegations include breach of warranty, violation of consumer and business law, consumer fraud, and false advertising.

The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief in the form of a corrective advertising campaign; stricter accounting for profits from the products in question; actual, punitive and statutory damages; attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

Burga is represented by Tina Wolfson, Robert Ahdoot, Keith Custis, Theodore W. Maya and Bradley K. King, of Ahdoot & Wolfson, P.C. in West Hollywood, California; and Christopher P. Ridout and Caleb Marker of Ridout Lyon + Ottoson, LLP in Long Beach, California. Conforti is represented by Todd S. Garber of Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LP in White Plains, New York.

U.S. District Court Central District of California case No. 8:15-cv-00115-AG-JCG.

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