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United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
February 2, 2021, Decided; February 2, 2021, Filed
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Chandra Campbell bought a box of honey graham crackers at Whole Foods. Ms. Campbell knew something that some customers buying graham crackers may not—"graham" refers to a type of whole-wheat flour. So when she saw a box at Whole Foods touting "Honey Graham Crackers," she understood that the crackers were made mostly of healthy whole-wheat flour, rather than regular white or "refined" flour. And she thought that they were sweetened predominantly with wholesome natural honey, rather than sugar or some other sweetener. But they are not. Ms. Campbell alleges that she was deceived by the product's packaging (notwithstanding the fact that the ingredient label accurately described [*2] the crackers' content). She brings this lawsuit as a result.
Because Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that the references to "honey" and "graham" on the product's packaging are likely to lead a reasonable consumer to wrongly believe that these graham crackers contain more whole-grain flour than non-whole grain flour, and that honey is their predominant sweetener, Plaintiff's consumer protection claims under Sections 349 and 350 of the New York General Business Obligation Law are adequately pleaded. However, Plaintiff's auxiliary tort and warranty claims fail. As a result, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Whole Foods "manufactures, distributes, markets, labels and sells graham crackers . . . ." FAC ¶ 1. The packaging for the product describes the product in a number of ways that Plaintiff alleges to be deceptive. Id. "The relevant front and identical back representations include 'Honey Graham Crackers,' 'Organic,' golden brown crackers and a honey dipper resting in a bowl of honey." Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff alleges that these representations on the packaging lead a reasonable consumer to believe that the graham crackers are "sweetened primarily with [*3] honey"—as opposed to sugar or another sweetener—and that the crackers contain predominantly whole-grain flour, as opposed to regular "white" or "refined" flour. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4.
To understand these allegations, one must examine the packaging for the product. The front of the graham cracker box is pictured below.
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2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19624 *; 2021 WL 355405
CHANDRA CAMPBELL, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, -against- WHOLE FOODS MARKET GROUP, INC., Defendant.
consumer, ingredient, crackers, packaging, flour, misleading, grain, label, wheat, sweetener, products, box, ORGANIC, deceptive, allegations, references, notice, unjust enrichment, predominant, pleaded, words, special relationship, injunctive relief, warranty, misled, representations, sugar, predominantly, cases, amended complaint
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