Lawsuit for Whole Foods product packaging is dismissed

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On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against defendant Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. over product packaging. Northern District of Illinois Judge Elaine E. Bucklo dismissed the case in its entirety, finding that the plaintiffs had failed in their duty to mislead consumers.

The alleged class-action lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of Illinois, alleged Whole Foods violated consumer protection and common law laws by selling products in unnecessarily large boxes.

The allegations in the complaint related to long grain and wild rice products. The plaintiff claimed that although Whole Foods has repeatedly pledged to reduce food packaging waste, the company “intentionally [misled] consumers on how much product they buy by sizing boxes to fit store shelves, rather than the volume of product they contain.

Plaintiffs’ legal claims included Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, Magnusson Moss Warranty Act, multiple state consumer protection laws, breach of implied warranty of merchantability , negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment.

Whole Foods decided to reject, arguing that the packaging accurately represented the contents of the boxes and that the information “dissolved any uncertainty a reasonable consumer might have about how much rice pilaf a box yields.”

On Tuesday, Judge Elaine Bucklo dismissed the case in its entirety, finding that the plaintiff’s claims did not sufficiently demonstrate that a reasonable consumer would be misled, or that “a significant portion of the general consuming public or targeted consumers , acting reasonably in the circumstances, could be misled. The court further held that a reasonable consumer would expect the size of the can to have a loose relationship to the amount of content the food could produce, since the rice is cooked and expands. Finally, the court held that the plaintiff’s other claims “either rest on his flawed theory of deception or suffer from distinct procedural or substantive shortcomings.”

The plaintiff was represented by Lubin Austermuhle and Sheehan & Associates; Whole Foods Market Group was represented by Blaxter Blackman LLP and the law firms of Joseph D. Ryan.

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