California Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Claims Alleging Food Company Products’ Labels were Misleading

noodlesIn Guttmann v. Nissin Foods (USA) Co., Inc., a California federal court dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that the defendant had engaged in false advertising regarding the safety of its noodle products, based on the presence of trans fat in the product. More specifically, the plaintiff indicated that he had assumed the defendant’s products were safe for consumption based on the product’s label, while also contending that he suffered economic damages as a result of being deprived of the benefits of the product that he thought he was purchasing.

After the plaintiff filed his lawsuit, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a document stating that partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fat, no longer carry the agency’s “GRAS,” or “generally recognized as safe” approval. Based on this document, food producers and manufacturers must now remove any trans fat from their food products by the year 2018.

Shortly after the FDA issued this document, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In their motion, the defendant noted that the plaintiff was involved as a plaintiff in at least four other cases against food producers involving similar allegations about the presence of trans fat in the companies’ products and whether the presence of the trans fat rendered the companies’ labels about the safety of the food misleading.

Based on these lawsuits, the defense argued that the plaintiff was aware that (1) the FDA had allowed products to be labeled as containing “0g Trans Fat” if the products contained less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, (2) product labels provide information about whether a product contains partially hydrogenated oil, and (3) these oils contained a certain degree of trans fat. The defendant also asked the court to take judicial notice of the contents of certain food product labels, and the court granted the request.

The plaintiff opposed the motion to dismiss, claiming that his involvement in other lawsuits was not part of the pleadings and therefore not a proper matter for the court to consider in ruling on the motion to dismiss. According to the court, however, the allegations contained in a pleading can be rejected if other matters that are properly the subject of judicial notice contradict them.

In granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court noted that California’s consumer protection statute excludes injuries that the plaintiff could have reasonably avoided from its definition of “unfair.” Based on the plaintiff’s involvement in other lawsuits involving safety claims and trans fat, the plaintiff had a reasonable opportunity to avoid the defendant’s noodle products.

If you or someone you love has been injured due to an unsafe product, the product liability lawyers at Moll Law Group can help. We provide seasoned and experienced legal counsel to accident victims throughout the country based out of our Chicago, Illinois office. We have represented clients across the country, including California, Texas, New York, and Florida. We understand how stressful this time can be for you and your family and how daunting suing a large company can be. At Moll Law Group, we can guide you through every step of the process. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.