Court Dismisses Vanilla Flavoring Lawsuit Against Mars’ Dove Ice Cream Bars

Two lawsuits filed against Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC claiming that the company misrepresented the vanilla ice cream put in its Mars’s Dove Vanilla Ice Cream bars were dismissed in a judgment on Wednesday by the Eastern District of New York. 

The plaintiffs, Mohammed Garadi and Molly Brown, each filed a putative class action complaint, and later amended complaints, against the defendant.  They claimed that the labels on the products are misleading because the ice cream is not flavored only with vanilla beans and has high levels of ethyl vanillin, which is used to imitate vanilla. The plaintiffs were seeking both monetary damages and injunctive relief for a class of all consumers who purchased the ice cream bar.

Garadi and Brown reportedly claimed that Mars Wrigley breached New York’s General Business Law, multiple California laws designed to protect consumers, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.  Additionally they claimed that the defendant unjustly benefited from its alleged fraudulent actions. 

The defendant countered the claims, arguing in favor of dismissal.  They cited that the plaintiffs did not have standing to enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and that they failed to state a claim for relief. 

In the memorandum related to the dismissal, the court determined that the defendants are correct and the plaintiffs did fail to state a claim.  In its filing, the court noted that the plaintiffs’ argument regarding U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations did not help prove standing because the case was not about FDA regulation enforcement, which is done by the FDA, but about a consumer’s understanding of the labels on the ice cream bars. 

Following this reasoning, the court said that the plaintiffs “failed to plausibly allege that a reasonable consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances would be misled by the phrase ‘vanilla ice cream.’ Mars’s label does not make any claims about where or in what quantity the vanilla taste comes from. It simply alerts a consumer faced with different flavors that this ice cream tastes like vanilla.” Reportedly, the plaintiffs did not claim in their complaint that the product does not taste like vanilla, which the court hinted may have led to a different outcome. 

Because additional claims from the plaintiffs were based on the premise that the label is misleading and the court ruled that it was not, the court dismissed the amended complaints. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Sheehan & Associates, Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, and Shub Law Firm.  Mars Wrigley is represented by Williams & Connolly.

Plaintiffs in another lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the company misrepresents its chocolate, filed an amended complaint on June 28.