Law School Case Brief
Henderson v. Gruma Corp. - No. CV 10-04173 AHM (AJWx), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41077 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 11, 2011)
California's consumer protection laws prohibit "advertising which, although true, is either misleading or which has a capacity, likelihood, or tendency to deceive or confuse the public."
California residents purchased Mission Guacamole product and Mission Spicy Bean Dip product in various grocery stores throughout the state. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, disgorgement, restitution, actual and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs against Gruma Corporation contending these Mission products contain "substantial and dangerous levels of artificial transfat," a substance linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also claimed that they were misled by the "misrepresentations, material omissions, and deceptive acts" of Gruma Corporation's product labeling, and in reliance on these misrepresentations, purchased the Mission products. Gruma Corporation filed a motion to dismiss.
Should the court dismiss the complaint?
No for claims related to the phrases "Guacamole" and "All Natural"
The court dismissed the following claims with prejudice: 1) plaintiffs' claims relating to "0 g transfat" and "0 g cholesterol;" 2) plaintiffs' claims related to the phrase "The Authentic Tradition;" and plaintiffs' claims related to the phrase "With Garden Vegetables." The court did not dismiss plaintiffs' claims related to the phrases "Guacamole" and "All Natural." The court reiterated that courts have found the term "all natural" to be sufficient basis for a cause of action under the UCL. Moreover, under the Williams test, the court found Gruma's label and use of the term "Guacamole" could deceive a reasonable consumer.
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