SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) -- A federal appeals court this week upheld a lower court's dismissal of a proposed class action filed over the allegedly harmful effects of a company's melatonin-laced brownies.

In his lawsuit, plaintiff Lee Cheramie claims Tennessee-based HBB LLC concealed the effects of its Lazy Cakes brownies, which it promoted as a sleep aid.

In particular, he alleges that HBB failed to inform consumers about the "serious" side effects stemming from the "excessive" quantity of melatonin in the product.

He alleges he was misled by the company into buying the "unsafe" product, causing him economic damage and in violation of various California laws prohibiting deceptive advertising and unfair business practices.

However, as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit notes in its five-page memorandum, the plaintiff contradicts himself.

"The complaint alleges that the Lazy Cakes packaging describes the product as a relaxation agent, discloses the presence and quantity of melatonin in each serving and the relevant serving size, and warns consumers about the risk of drowsiness," the panel wrote Monday.

"More tellingly, he admits that research regarding the safety and side effects of melatonin consumption and the proper dosage is inconsistent and inconclusive."

Under the facts as alleged, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and ruled that Cheramie did not state a plausible claim of deception and that his statutory and common law claims were properly dismissed.

However, the panel ruled that Cheramie, on remand, should be allowed an opportunity to file an amended complaint -- something the lower court denied with no explanation.

The Ninth Circuit said it may be possible for him to allege facts "sufficient to state a claim for relief under California law that would survive a motion to dismiss."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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