Law School Case Brief
McKinniss v. Sunny Delight Bevs. Co. - 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96108 (C.D. Cal. Sep. 4, 2007)
Where a consumer can readily and accurately determine the composition and nutritional value of a product (here, by reading the front and back of the label), no reasonable consumer would be misled or deceived by depictions of fruit on a label.
Plaintiffs Mark C. McKinniss, Darleen McKinniss and Mark R. McKinniss, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a putative class action lawsuit in federal district court against defendant Sunny Delight Beverages, Co., alleging deceptive labeling used to promote several of its beverage products. Specifically, they alleged that the terms and imagery on defendant's product labels, including the names used to describe the various beverages—such as "Orange Fused Pineapple," "Orange Fused Peach," and the like—and the colorful depictions of assorted fruits, combined with the placement of defendant's products alongside "real" fruit beverages in retail establishments, created confusion and misrepresented the content and nutritional value of defendant's products. Plaintiffs contended that defendant's products were, despite the depictions of oranges, apples, and other fruits on their product labels, little more than sugar water with negligible amounts of juice. The causes of action included: 1) violations of the California Unfair Competition Law; 2) violations of the California Fair Advertising Law; 3) negligent misrepresentation; 4) breach of express warranty; 5) unjust enrichment; and 6) violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss.
Should the court grant the motion to dismiss?
The court granted the motion to dismiss. The court held that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for all their causes of action. The court reasoned that where a consumer, such as plaintiffs, could readily and accurately determine the composition and nutritional value of a product, such as by reading the front and back of the label, no reasonable consumer would be misled or deceived by depictions of fruit on a label. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts to make out a claim for breach of an express warranty because to state such a claim, plaintiffs were required to allege facts sufficient to show that defendant made affirmations of fact or promises that became part of the basis of the bargain between the parties. Lastly, the court found that there was no cause of action for unjust enrichment because plaintiffs failed to allege any facts indicating the existence of a constructive trust between themselves and defendant.
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