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Consumer Claims Melt Away Under District Court’s Scrutiny

In a recent decision, Beers v. Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC, Judge Seibel of the District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all of Plaintiff Steven Beers’s claims under Sections 349 and 350 of the New York General Business Law (“GBL”). Judge Seibel concluded that Beers’s complaint, which took aim at the labeling on Dove brand ice cream bars, failed to plausibly allege that the disputed labeling was misleading to reasonable consumers.  Beers reaffirms the basic principle that idiosyncratic or farfetched interpretations of product labeling do not give rise to GBL claims.

Background

The Beers complaint concerned the labeling of Dove chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars (“Dove bars”), a product of Defendant Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC.  As seen below, the front label of Dove bars read “Silky Smooth Dove Bar®, Vanilla Ice Cream with Milk Chocolate” and included a picture of chunks of chocolate.  IdThe back label similarly stated “Silky Smooth Dove Bar®,” and included a picture of chocolate and text stating: “Take a moment . . . to enjoy the rich flavor of vanilla ice cream dipped in silky smooth DOVE® Milk Chocolate.” IdThe packaging also contained an ingredient list for both the ice cream and the chocolate coating of the Dove bars—notably, the listed ingredients for the chocolate coating included, inter alia, coconut oil and palm oil.  Id.