A Tuesday complaint filed in the Southern District of New York accused Froneri US, Inc., the maker of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, of misleading customers about the true nature of the chocolate coating enveloping ice cream bars it makes and offers for sale. The plaintiff, Lauren Yu, a citizen of New York, seeks to represent a class consisting of “all purchasers of the Product who reside in New York during the applicable statutes of limitations.”
According to the filing, Froneri is a Delaware corporation based in Oakland, Calif. It manufactures, distributes, markets, labels, and sells the aforementioned ice cream bars to consumers through online and retail outlets individually and in packages of three. The ice cream bar’s packaging includes the following labels on its frontside: “Häagen-Dazs,” “Coffee Almond Crunch Ice Cream Bars,” “Coffee Ice Cream Dipped in Rich Milk Chocolate, Almonds and Toffee,” and an image of the product.
Substantively, the plaintiff claims that “[t]he unqualified, prominent and conspicuous representation that the Product contains, and is dipped in “milk chocolate” is false, deceptive and misleading because the purported chocolate contains ingredients consumers do not expect in chocolate – vegetable oils.” According to the complaint, the chocolate coating is not made from cacao beans, and cacao fat, rather it is made from a cheaper substitute, vegetable oil.
The complaint points to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to combat misleading labels, explaining, “[r]egulations regarding chocolate effectively establish custom and practice in the industry so that consumers’ experience with that custom and practice primes them to infer from a product’s labeling whether a product contains chocolate or is a chocolate mixture (compound) which contains vegetable oils.” Thus, the plaintiff contends, Forneri’s labeling deceives consumers. Further, the defendant caused consumers to overpay because, as the plaintiff avers, they are worth less than the $5.99 per bar paid by consumers when compared to similar products represented in a non-misleading way.
The plaintiff and putative class bring claims under New York’s consumer protection statutes and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, in addition to negligent misrepresentation, breaches of express and implied warranty of merchantability, and fraud claims. For the alleged harm, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief barring the defendant’s misleading business practices, and damages, amongst other requests.
The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates, P.C.