On Wednesday, Lakita Smith, on behalf of the putative class, filed a complaint in the Northern District of Illinois- Eastern Division against General Mills Sales, Inc. for allegedly deceiving customers into believing that their “Totino’s Pizza Rolls” products contain authentic cheese, when in fact they overwhelmingly contain imitation cheese.
The complaint began by defining pizza: flat round bread with tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients. Moreover, the complaint said that cheese is “valued by consumers because it is a natural food.” On the contrary, imitation cheese is made with highly processed “vegetable oils, corn starch and casein, instead of milk solids.” The complaint argued that milk is important to the human diet as it contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals, and vitamins, while imitation cheese has “unhealthy fats and lacks the nutrients found in real cheese.”
The plaintiff claimed that the advertising of Totino’s Pizza Rolls is misleading since it fails to disclose that “ [the cheese blend] is a substitute for and resembles [mozzarella cheese] but is nutritionally inferior to that food.”
Because of the packaging claiming “Pizza in a Golden Crust,” the plaintiff reasonably believed that the product contained real cheese, as a pizza would, “because that is what the representations and omissions said and implied.” Thus, Smith was misled by the packaging, and would not have paid as much for the product if he had known it contained almost entirely imitation cheese. Therefore, he is suing on the counts of violating the Consumer Protection Statute of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, violations of several state consumer fraud acts, breach of express and implied warranties, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
The plaintiff is seeking class certification, injunctive relief directing General Mills to correct their practices, restitution, disgorgement, monetary, statutory and/or punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.
The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates, P.C.