On Sunday, Rebecca Melvan (Plaintiff) filed a putative class action in the Northern District of Illinois against General Mills Sales, Inc. (General Mills). Plaintiff alleges that General Mills has deceptively labeled, marketed and sold its Gardetto’s brand garlic rye chips as being a whole grain product when in fact it is predominantly made with “refined” grains.
Plaintiff alleges that consumers value whole grain products because such products contain more nutrients and fiber (and less gluten) than those made with refined grains. Plaintiff alleges that General Mills deceives consumers through the use of caramel food coloring to darken the product, “… which makes the mostly white flour product look dark, creating the impression it contains more rye flour than it does.”
Plaintiff also alleges that the packaging is misleading. Although Plaintiff notes that “… enriched flour is listed ahead of rye flour [on the ingredient list], consumers who review the ingredients will not know what percent of the Product’s grains are refined compared to whole grains.” The Plaintiff does note that the product’s “ ‘de minimis’ whole grain content is confirmed by the Nutrition Facts, which reveals 1 g per serving of fiber, or 4% of the Daily Value.”
Beyond her specific allegations, Plaintiff alleges that she “… relied on the words, terms [sic] coloring, descriptions, layout, placement, packaging, tags and/or images on the Product, on the labeling, statements, omissions, claims, and instructions, made by Defendant or at its directions, in digital, print and/or social media, which accompanied the Product and separately, through in-store, digital, audio, and print marketing.”
Because of General Mills’s allegedly deceptive conduct, “The value of the Product that Plaintiff purchased was materially less than its value as represented by Defendant.”
Plaintiff alleges two classes: an “Illinois Class” for those who purchased in Illinois “during the statutes of limitations for each cause of action alleged”; and a similar “Consumer Fraud Multi-State Class” for purchasers in Iowa, Arkansas, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah.
The complaint contains six causes oil action: Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act; Violation of State Consumer Fraud Acts (On Behalf of the Consumer Fraud Multi-State Class); Breaches of Express Warranty, Implied Warranty of Merchantability/Fitness for a Particular Purpose and Magnuson Moss Warranty Act; Negligent Misrepresentation; Fraud; and Unjust Enrichment.
In her Prayer for Relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that the action is a “proper” class action and that she be certified as the class representative and her counsel as class counsel. She also seeks injunctive and declaratory relief to correct General Mills’s alleged misconduct; disgorgement and restitution; damages (including “statutory and/or punitive” damages); and costs and expenses, including legal fees.
Plaintiff’s counsel is Sheehan & Associates, P.C.