Law School Case Brief
Williams v. Gerber Prods. Co. - 523 F.3d 934 (9th Cir. 2008)
A district court should grant a motion to dismiss if plaintiffs have not pled enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. The motion to dismiss is not a procedure for resolving a contest between the parties about the facts or the substantive merits of the plaintiff's case.
Defendant manufacturer made fruit snacks for toddlers that plaintiff parents claimed they bought because they believed the snacks were healthy for their children. However, the parents claimed they were misled upon finding out that the two most prominent ingredients were corn syrup and sugar. Plaintiffs parents sued defendant alleging tort claims for misrepresentation and breach of warranty, and claims under California's Unfair Competition Law. The district court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed.
Are consumers expected to look beyond the misleading representations in the product boxes to discover the ingredient list in small prints?
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling of the district court, holding that there were a number of features of the packaging that could likely deceive a reasonable consumer. The product was called "fruit juice snacks" and the packaging pictured a number of different fruits, potentially suggesting that those fruits or their juices were contained in the product. Further, the statement that the snack was made with "fruit juice and other all natural ingredients" could easily be interpreted by consumers as a claim that all the ingredients in the product were natural, which appeared to be false.
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