Lawsuit Against Nestle for White Chocolate Branding Dismissed

The Northern District of California granted Nestle’s motion to dismiss in a lawsuit alleging the packaging for Nestle Toll House’s Premier White Morsels is misleading because the product does not contain white chocolate.

“This Court concludes that Plaintiffs have not alleged facts showing that Nestle’s labeling, advertising, and product placement would deceive a reasonable consumer into believing that the Product contains white chocolate,” the order stated. “But the Product’s label does not state that it contains white chocolate or even use the word ‘chocolate.’  As discussed below, Plaintiffs’ allegations are insufficient to state a claim.”

Steven Prescott and Linda Cheslow, represented by Clarkson Law Firm, filed the class action lawsuit against Nestle in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court in September of 2019. Nestle USA, Inc is represented by Mayer Brown. The company argued in their motion to dismiss that the petitioners failed to state a claim for relief.

The Order said the plaintiffs did not allege that they were aware of the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of white chocolate or Nestle’s introduction of white chocolate in the 1930’s when purchasing the product, but they “devote many paragraphs” in their petition to the topic.

The plaintiffs claimed they believed the product contained white chocolate because of the word “white” in the title, and that the product contained real ingredients because of the word “premier,” and that they would not have purchased it if they knew it did not contain white chocolate.

“Now that Plaintiffs know the Product does not contain white chocolate, it is difficult to see how Plaintiffs could be misled into purchasing it in the future,” the order stated, arguing that the plaintiffs did not allege they would purchase the product without the labeling.

Nestle argued in their motion to dismiss that the petitioners lack standing for injunctive relief and failed to state a claim. Nestle further argues that the word premier is “non-actionable puffery.” Nestle also pointed out that the plaintiffs have filed similar complaints against Ghirardelli Chocolate and the Kroger Company.

The order cited other lawsuits where courts decided the word “white” on packaging for baking chips would not lead a consumer to believe the package contained white chocolate. The order also says the word “premier” is defined as “first in position, rank, or importance” and that the court agrees with Neste that claims cannot be based on similar generalized assertions.