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Quiroz v. Beaverton Foods, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

March 31, 2019, Decided; March 31, 2019, Filed

17-CV-7348 (NGG) (JO)

Opinion

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Daniela Quiroz brings this putative class action against Beaverton Foods, Inc., a food manufacturer based in Oregon, challenging Defendant's advertising and marketing of its product, the 10 oz. version of Inglehoffer® Original Stone Ground Mustard (the "Product"). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's use of labels stating that the Product contains "No Preservatives" is, among other things, misleading. (Am. Compl. ("FAC") (Dkt. 21) ¶ 1.) Plaintiff asserts multiple causes of action, including violations of New York General Business Law ("GBL") and common law fraud. (Id. ¶¶ 62-93.)

Defendant moves to dismiss the Plaintiffs amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), and arguing that the amended [*2]  complaint fails to satisfy the pleading standards of Rules 8(a) and 9(b). (Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. 23); Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss ("Mem.") (Dkt. 23-1).) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff challenges Defendant's labeling of the Product as containing "No Preservatives." (FAC ¶ 1.) She contends that this statement is misleading because the Product actually contains citric acid, an alleged preservative. (Id. ¶¶ 1,12-13.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant would have known that citric acid functions as a preservative in the Product because, upon information and belief, Defendant employs food scientists familiar with the basic properties of citric acid. (Id. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff asserts that "[b]y representing that the Product has 'No Preservatives,"' Defendant "capitalized on consumers' preference for less processed foods with fewer additives" and "the special value that reasonable consumers attach to preservative-free foods and beverages." (Id. ¶¶ 46, 48.) In this way, Defendant's misleading label gave it a "marketing advantage over competitors that do not engage in such deceptive conduct." (Id. ¶ 48.)

Plaintiff alleges [*3]  that on November 8, 2017, she purchased the Product at a Target department store in Elmhurst, Queens for $2.51, and that she relied on the "No Preservatives" label in deciding to make this purchase. (Id. ¶ 9.) She contends that she would not have purchased the Product "had she known the truth about it." (Id.) Further, she states that if encounters the Product again, she "could not rely on the truthfulness of the packaging, absent corrective changes to the packaging." (Id.)

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2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57313 *; 2019 WL 1473088

DANIELA QUIROZ, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff, -against- BEAVERTON FOODS, INC., Defendant.

CORE TERMS

preservative, label, citric acid, allegations, misleading, chemical, food, deceptive, products, plaintiff's claim, fraudulent intent, injunctive relief, ingredients, consumer, motion to dismiss, functions, argues, violations, contends, premium, private right of action, amended complaint, common law fraud, sufficient facts, alleged facts, circumvention, regulations, material misrepresentation, misrepresentation, declaration

Civil Procedure, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Preliminary Considerations, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Heightened Pleading Requirements, Fraud Claims, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Standing, Elements, Particular Parties, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Irreparable Harm, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, State Regulation, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, False Advertising, Pleading & Practice, Heightened Pleading Requirements, Business & Corporate Compliance, Governments, Agriculture & Food, Federal Food & Drugs Act, Remedies, Damages, Compensatory Damages, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud