SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - A "common sense" ruling has dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by a woman who felt she should have been able to rely on the pictures on a package of food to tell her what was in it, rather than looking at the ingredients list, an attorney says.
On Nov. 2, Judge William Alsup, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, dismissed a consumer class action suit against a food manufacturer because the plaintiff’s case could not amount to a plausible claim. The case is one of many lawsuits being fought over food labeling.
“This case is part of a trend of cases alleging false and deceptive advertising based on food labeling. This plaintiff sought a specific tact—to claim that she could rely on the pictures on a label to tell her the product’s contents," said Alexis Amezcua, an attorney from Morris and Foerster in San Francisco who has practiced in product liability, unfair competition, and complex consumer class actions cases.
"The court’s ruling appears to apply common sense: a reasonable shopper would read an ingredient list to know a product’s contents."
Kathyrn Workman, a Michigan resident, originally filed the suit against Plum Organics for allegedly deceiving costumers because the labels of various Plum Organics food products showed pictures of pumpkin, pomegranate and other ingredients that were not the products’ most prominent ingredients.
Alsup applied a “reasonable consumer test” and found that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived by the labels at issue because he or she would simply not believe that the pictures on the packaging would directly resemble the prominence of each ingredient.
“This ruling is useful because (1) it shows that false advertising claims are in fact subject to dismissal on the pleadings, and (2) the operative test—the “reasonable consumer test”—assumes that a reasonable shopper would not rely on pictures on the front of product packaging without reading the ingredient list," Amezcua said.
"In that sense, the ruling could be useful to disposing of food labeling litigation at the outset."