Mondelez Global Files Motion to Dismiss Food Labeling Lawsuit

A motion to dismiss was filed on Tuesday in the Northern District of California by defendant Modelēz Global LLC, seeking to end a case brought by plaintiff Avi Klammer who alleged that the company’s Enjoy Life Lentil Chips product is misleadingly labelled.

The first amended complaint, filed in early July, alleges that the defendant engaged in deceptive, misleading, and unlawful practices in the way they marketed and sold the chips.

The product marketing focuses on the high-protein nature of the product as well as its health benefits, the complaint said. The packaging describes the product as “high protein lentils finely milled into flour for a light & airy chip with serious crunch.” Despite the defendant’s claims that their product is high in protein, the plaintiff asserts that the products they sell are not high in protein and do not meet the regulatory requirements to make that claim. In addition to their protein claims, Mondelēz allegedly omits the percent daily value for protein on their labeling.

Klammer asserts in the first amended complaint that she only purchased the product since she was under the belief that it was accurately represented, and if she had known about the misrepresentations and omissions, she would not have purchased the defendant’s products.

The motion to dismiss explained that Klammer’s first amended complaint failed to state a plausible claim on which the court could grant appropriate relief.

Mondelēz claims that the plaintiff’s focus on the phrase “high protein lentils” in basing their argument is flawed, since that phrase describes only the lentils that are used to make the chips, not the chips themselves. The words “high protein” are never presented on the labeling of the product in isolation. They explain that the “plaintiff’s interpretation of the labeling is entirely implausible.”

The defendant further notes that courts “routinely reject consumer fraud claims where the plaintiff plucks words out of a label while ignoring the context in which they appear.” When the phrase “high protein” is viewed in the context of the larger phrase, the defendant contends that the packaging is not misleading or unlawful.

The plaintiff also claims that the defendant’s labeling of their product as “protein-packed” is misleading, but the defendant argues that this claim fails as well since no reasonable consumer would rely on the phrase, which is “non-actionable puffery.” Further, all a consumer would have to do to clarify their questions about protein would be to look at the nutrition panel right next to the labeling, which notes that the product contains 3 grams of protein. Lastly, the plaintiff did not adequately argue that the “protein-packed” representation or the omission of the percent daily value section influenced his decision to purchase the product.

The defendant concludes the motion to complaint by stating that the plaintiff’s lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages, should be dismissed with prejudice.

The defendant is represented in the litigation by Jenner & Block LLP.