Stephen Bradshaw, a New York resident, filed a putative class-action lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York on Sunday against Blue Diamond Growers alleging that the almond and coconut milk sold by the company claims it is flavored only with vanilla when in actuality it does not contain actual vanilla.
The milk, which is marketed under the Almond Breeze brand, is reportedly sold online and in stores in cartons of 32 and 64 ounces with photos of almonds and coconuts and portrays labels including unsweetened, vanilla, Almond Breeze, almond coconut blend, and almond milk coconut milk blend. According to the complaint, the vanilla representation on the bottle is “false, deceptive and misleading,” because instead of vanilla which comes from an orchid plant the product contains a fake vanilla which provides the taste but has little or no amounts of actual vanilla.
The ingredient list reportedly lists the vanilla as “natural flavors” rather than specifying that it is not vanilla. The plaintiff said that he, the punitive class, and other consumers expected the vanilla taste of the milk to come from vanilla beans. Blue Diamond, according to the plaintiff, is essentially claiming that the product is made from vanilla because it does not say it contains artificial vanilla.
Bradshaw also argued that the defendant engaged in unjust enrichment, he alleged that the company did not disclose that the product contains artificial vanilla because plaintiffs would pay more for a product with real vanilla and that the product was sold at higher prices than it would otherwise have. The product is reportedly sold at a “premium price” of at least $3.59 for 32 ounces, which is higher compared to similar items.
Bradshaw, represented by Spencer Sheehan, asked the court for class certification, injunctive relief, and monetary damages.
Sheehan has represented plaintiffs in other cases this year regarding alleged misleading marketing for products including one against Blue Diamond for almond packaging and others regarding artificial vanilla.