This article was originally published on Food Navigator on January 13, 2021.

If your company sells any vanilla-flavored food or beverage product, then you are probably aware of the innumerable class action cases that have been filed over the last 18 months attacking these products – 67 cases by our count.  Here, we trace the history of this litigation and the outcomes achieved to date.
Continue Reading The Scoop on All that Vanilla Flavor False Advertising Litigation

This article was originally posted in Food Manufacturing on January 6, 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of putative class actions targeting the food and beverage industry increased in 2020 and show no signs of slowing down in 2021. The number of class actions filed against beverage companies in New York increased while the number of cases filed in California decreased. While the Northern District of California, which had become known as the “food court” remained a popular jurisdiction for these suits, filings in New York outpaced those in California. The factual basis of the claims also continues to evolve. Early cases challenged the description of food and beverages as “all natural” when the products contained additives allegedly rendering the “all natural” representation false and misleading.
Continue Reading Food & Beverage False Advertising and Labeling Class Actions: What You Need to Know for 2021

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a non-party online behavioral advertising firm could not benefit from the arbitration clause in the agreement between Verizon and its customers because it was not a party to that agreement.
Continue Reading Behavioral Advertising Company That Dropped “Zombie” Cookies Can’t Use Verizon’s Arbitration Clause To Avoid Class Action Lawsuit

On April 6, 2017, the California Supreme Court struck another blow in its contentious battle with the United States Supreme Court on the enforceability of consumer arbitration clauses subject to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).  In McGill v. Citibank, N.A., No. S224086, Slip Op. at 1 (Cal. Apr. 6, 2017), the Court held that an arbitration clause in Citibank’s credit card  agreement purporting to waive the plaintiff’s right to seek public injunctive relief under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), or the False Advertising Law (FAL) in any forum was unenforceable as against California public policy.  The Court further held that, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on the subject, including in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740, 1747 (2011), the FAA did not preempt California’s policy.  As discussed below, these holdings are troubling and likely inconsistent with federal law.
Continue Reading Dancing On Their Own: The California Supreme Court’s Decision in McGill v. Citibank, N.A. that Class Action Waivers Do Not Apply to Claims for Public Injunctive Relief under California’s Consumer Protection Laws

On June 23, 2015, the Ninth Circuit in Cabral v. Supple LLC, — Fed. Appx. –, 2015 WL 3855142 (9th Cir. June 23, 2015) placed a significant hurdle in the path of false advertising class actions.  Specifically, the Court held that in class actions “based upon alleged misrepresentations in advertising and the like,” in order for common questions to predominate—an essential Rule 23(b) inquiry—“it is critical that the misrepresentation in question be made to all of the class members.”
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit to False Advertising Class Actions: Drop Dead

By Elizabeth Barcohana

Facebook, Inc. was sued in a class action last year over one of its advertising practices called “Sponsored Stories,” which typically consist of a Facebook Friend’s name, profile picture, and an assertion that the person (your Facebook Friend) “likes” an advertiser, coupled with the advertiser’s logo, featured on your Facebook page or News Feed. The idea is that the target of the advertisement (i.e., you) will be more influenced by the company’s advertisement because someone in your network (i.e., your Friend) “likes” that company. The disconnect is that “liking” a page on Facebook does not necessarily mean the user likes that company in the normal sense of the word. For example, one could “like” a page in order to get some promotional benefit from the company or learn more information about the company or its product.


Continue Reading He “Likes” Me, He “Likes” Me Not – Facebook’s Sponsored Stories Lawsuit and the Proposed Class Settlement

In Feder v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey joined the New Jersey Superior Court in weighing in on the issue of whether a retailer violates consumer privacy state law by requesting a customer’s zip code at the point of purchase.  Feder was brought by the same plaintiff’s lawyers and with claims similar to those in the state court case Imbert v. Harmon Stores, Inc.(Bed, Bath & Beyond). Imbert was decided last month, but without any written decision, and permitted that case to proceed past the pleading stage. The District Court in Feder, however, issued the first written opinion under the New Jersey statutes, finding that allegations that a zip code was verbally requested could not support a claim under New Jersey law.
 


Continue Reading ZIPped Back Up: Williams-Sonoma Gains Federal Dismissal Of New Jersey Consumer Privacy Claim in Feder

A New Jersey state trial court has initially weighed in on the issue of whether a retailer violates state law by requesting a customer’s zip code at the point of purchase.  In a case fashioned after the California Supreme Court’s decision in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, 51 Cal.4th 524 (Feb. 10, 2011), New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury has denied a motion to dismiss brought by Harmon Stores, Inc. (Bed, Bath & Beyond), finding that the plaintiff Robert Imbert adequately pled a claim for violation of New Jersey’s Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:11-17 (“TCCWNA”).   The Court’s ruling allows plaintiff to proceed beyond this initial stage, but no liability has been found.
 


Continue Reading UnZIPped in New Jersey?