On Monday in the Eastern District of New York, Christopher Silva (Silva) progressed in a putative class action claim against Arizona Beverage Company (Arizona) alleging that their product, Arizona Fruit Snacks (product), claimed on the label to be “all natural” despite containing numerous synthetic chemicals in violation of New York state law. In response, Arizona filed a motion to dismiss which the district judge denied.
Section 349 of the New York General Business Law (NYGBL) makes it unlawful to engage in “false advertising in the conduct of any business, trade, or commerce….” To survive an opposing party’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must, in their complaint, allege that the plaintiff made a purchase at a price they otherwise would not have paid but for the false advertising on the label.
In the associated order, the district judge held that Silva met this burden. The plaintiff’s complaint claimed that he “paid more for the product than he would have if not for the ‘all natural’ representation”, included a picture of the alleged false packaging, and identified the synthetic ingredients as “gelatin, citric acid, ascorbic acid, dextrose, glucose syrup and modified food starch.” This, concluded the associated order, is all the law requires when determining whether to grant Arizona’s motion to dismiss as the “plaintiff is required to plead the facts, not the details of the law.”
Silva seeks class certification for “a proposed class consisting of all consumers who purchased the product anywhere in the United States, and a proposed subclass consisting of all consumers who purchased the product in the State of New York.” The court allowed the claim to proceed for treble compensatory damages as allowed by the NYGBL, but held the putative class lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief on grounds of standing. The judge ruled that a request for injunctive relief required the risk of future injury which is not present in this case as when “a plaintiff in a false advertisement case has necessarily become aware of the alleged misrepresentations, there is no danger that they will again be deceived by them.” As Silva knew of the existence of the synthetic chemicals, he also knew the existence of the purported misrepresentations.
Silva is represented by the Sultzer Law Group, P.C.