Category: Retailers

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Disclosure of Sugar Content on Nutrition Label Dooms Plaintiffs in “Cane Juice” Case
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Not-So-Free Shipping: Yeezy Brand to Pay $950k Over Late Shipping under California Consumer Protection Laws

Disclosure of Sugar Content on Nutrition Label Dooms Plaintiffs in “Cane Juice” Case

By: Matthew G. Ball

Summary: Eastern District of New York dismisses claims that labeling of Whole Foods’ Oats & Flax Instant Oatmeal is false and misleading as to sugar content

Key Takeaways: In Warren v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., No. 19-CV-6448 (RPK) (LB) (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2021), two plaintiffs who purchased Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand  Oats & Flax Instant Oatmeal alleged that the product’s labeling was false and misleading under New York’s General Business Law because (1) they believed that the use of the term “dehydrated cane juice solids” referred to a fruit juice, rather than sugar, and (2) a stamp on the product that said “whole grains” misled them into thinking that the oatmeal contained only whole grains.  The Court granted the motion to dismiss on all claims.  The Court noted that the nutrition label on the back of the product clearly disclosed the sugar content, there were no representations on the front of the product that the oatmeal was “sugar-free,” “low in sugar,” “without added sugar,” or anything similar, and, in light of that, the Court was unwilling to conclude that a reasonable consumer would be misled given the totality of the labeling. The Court also found that plaintiffs offered no reason why a reasonable consumer would conclude that “cane juice” meant “fruit juice.”  Similarly, the Court found that no reasonable person would conclude that the entirety of the product was composed only of whole grains, given, among other things, the actual stamp-at-issue read “100% Whole Grain – 18g or more per serving” immediately conveying that the whole grains make up a portion of each serving and the product name itself disclosed a non-grain ingredient, flax.  At least in the Eastern District of New York, a reasonable consumer is not permitted to focus on one area of labeling to support an implausible interpretation of the labeling as a whole. As the Court stated, the “analysis begins with the front of the box and ends on its back.”

Not-So-Free Shipping: Yeezy Brand to Pay $950k Over Late Shipping under California Consumer Protection Laws

By: Melissa J. Tea and Kelsi E. Robinson

Supply chain disruptions, coupled with a surge in online shopping, have led to overstretched companies and impatient customers. The supply chain crisis continues to cause shipping delays across the nation as companies struggle to work around pandemic-related constraints. A recent case in the Los Angeles County Superior Court has put companies and individuals who advertise or conduct business, online or otherwise, in California on notice that failure to adequately communicate with customers regarding accurate shipping times could result in consumer protection law liability for missed shipment deadlines.

On 8 November 2021, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that the high-end sneaker and retail clothing companies, Yeezy Apparel LLC and Yeezy LLC (collectively, Yeezy), will pay US$950,000 to settle a civil consumer protection lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by district attorneys in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sonoma, and Napa counties, alleged that Yeezy engaged in unlawful business conduct under the California Business and Professions Code (BPC) for failing to ship items in a timely manner and false advertising.

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