Campbell's seeks to dismiss suit alleging its gumbo soup is unhealthy

By Kristin Danley-Greiner | Aug 16, 2016

SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – Campbell Soup Company has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against a California man who alleges the company misleadingly labels and advertises a certain soup.

SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – Campbell Soup Company has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit of a California man who alleges the company misleadingly labels and advertises a certain soup.

Harold Brower, of Escondido, filed a class action lawsuit April 25 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Campbell’s, alleging breach of implied and express warranties and violations of California business and civil codes.


The suit alleges Campbell's labels and advertises its Healthy Request chunky grilled chicken and sausage gumbo soup as healthy, but the plaintiff said it actually contains artificial trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Trans fat, the complaint states, is bad for health, and increases an individual's risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

In its motion to dismiss, Campbell’s argues the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s review and pre-approval process for labels preempts the suit, because that regulatory framework specifically looks at whether labels are false or misleading, and includes “pervasive” regulations relating to “health” claims, David Ter Molen told Legal Newsline. Ter Molen is a partner with Freeborn & Peters LLP.

“Campbell contends that these regulations, as propounded pursuant to the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act, prohibit any consumer protection claims under state law,” Ter Molen said.

 

Whether the court accepts that this suit seeks to impose requirements on already-approved labels that add to or differ from the USDA’s requirements relating to healthy claims will be key, Ter Molen said.

“In some cases, courts have rejected preemption arguments on the grounds that the lawsuit seeks to help, rather than hinder, the federal objectives," he said.

"Here the defendants may have an uphill claim to the extent the court agrees with Campbell that its labels fully comply with USDA regulations for ‘healthy’ claims, which do not expressly prohibit the existence of trans fats.”

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