November 4, 2020 – Ruling on Amended Suit, Judge Dismisses Case Again
The proposed class action detailed on this page has been dismissed without prejudice, with U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez tossing an amended version of the complaint on October 29, 2020.
Though the original version of the lawsuit was dismissed back in June, Judge Benitez allowed the plaintiff to bring an adjusted complaint in which the suit’s deficiencies, which concerned a lack of factual allegations regarding the method by which Kellogg puts vanilla or vanilla flavoring in the granola, were addressed. The amended lawsuit, filed July 6, was nevertheless dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff, according to Judge Benitez, again failed to plausibly allege the granola contains insufficient vanilla.
“[The plaintiff] still offers no factual allegations of what practice Kellogg uses to put vanilla or vanilla flavoring in the Product or what, other than vanilla beans, might be in the Product,” the dismissal order states. “Accordingly, the Court finds [the plaintiff] has not plausibly alleged the Product contains insufficient vanilla to support the vignette and grants Kellogg’s motion to dismiss.”
The plaintiff has 14 days from October 29 by which to file another amended complaint.
Kellogg Sales Company’s “Bear Naked Granola Fit V’nilla Almond” is at the center of a proposed class action that alleges the vanilla flavoring in the product is not exclusively derived from vanilla beans as advertised.
The plaintiff claims that he relied on the words “V’nilla” and “naturally flavored,” as well as a vignette of vanilla beans and the narrative presented by the defendant’s “About Us” statement, on the granola’s packaging in assuming the product’s flavor was derived solely from vanilla beans. The case argues that despite the company’s packaging and advertising representations, Kellogg Sales Company’s ingredients list for the product fails to identify vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring as the source of the granola’s flavor. The company’s listing of “natural flavors,” as opposed to “vanilla flavor” or “vanilla extract,” among the granola’s ingredients is a “tacit acknowledgement that the ‘natural flavors’ is not a synonym for the required vanilla ingredients,” the lawsuit says.
The case argues that vanilla flavor in “Bear Naked Granola Fit V’nilla Almond” derived from any source other than the vanilla bean should be labeled more accurately as an artificial flavor. Nowhere on the product’s packaging is it disclosed that the granola is flavored with anything other than real vanilla, the suit goes on, a misrepresentation the plaintiff says is meant to create the impression that the product is naturally flavored.
Consumers would not have bought, or would have paid less for, the Kellogg granola product had they known the granola was not flavored exclusively by vanilla beans, the lawsuit claims. As a result, the case says, consumers have been denied the benefit of their bargain.
“As a result of the unlawful scheme alleged herein, Defendant has been able to overcharge Plaintiff and other consumers for its product, induce purchases that would otherwise not have occurred, and/or obtain wrongful profits,” the lawsuit alleges.
Initially filed on December 20, 2019 in San Diego County Superior Court, the lawsuit has been removed to California’s Southern District.