Putative Class Complains that Annie’s “Strawberry Fruit Snacks” Lack Strawberries
On August 1, 2017, plaintiff Raymond Alvandi filed a putative class action in California federal court against Annie’s, Inc., seeking damages and injunctive and declaratory relief. Alvandi alleges that Annie’s misrepresented the strawberry content and nutritional and health qualities of its “Summer Strawberry” Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks. Alvandi seeks to represent a nationwide class of all consumers of Annie’s Strawberry Fruit Snacks in the last six years, as well as a subclass of those who purchased the fruit snacks in California. He claims that the court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act, alleging that there are at least several thousand putative class members and that the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000. Alvandi alleges that over the last six years, Annie’s marketing practices have been deceptive, trying to convince consumers that its Strawberry Fruit Snacks actually contain strawberries and are a nutritious and healthful option. Instead, the only fruit-related byproduct in the Strawberry Fruit Snacks is “Pear Juice From Concentrate,” which is essentially a neutral tasting form of sugar.
According to Alvandi, Annie’s labels and markets its Strawberry Fruit Snacks as containing “Natural Strawberry Flavors” and claims that they are “Made with Goodness.” Alvandi alleges that Annie’s has been able to charge a price premium by representing that its Strawberry Fruit Snacks (1) contain a significant amount of strawberries; (2) are nutritious and healthful snacks; and (3) are healthier than similar products on the market.
Alvandi further alleges that Annie’s allegedly false and misleading advertising played a substantial role in influencing his decision to purchase Annie’s Strawberry Fruit Snacks. Alvandi contends that had he known the true strawberry content of the fruit snacks (or lack thereof), as well as their true nutritional and health qualities, he would not have purchased the fruit snacks.
Alvandi asserts claims on his own behalf and on behalf of all purchasers of Strawberry Fruit Snacks for Annie’s alleged breach of express warranty, and violations of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), and California’s False Advertising Law. He seeks (1) an injunction prohibiting Annie’s from engaging in false in deceptive advertising; (2) declaratory relief; (3) statutory, compensatory, treble, and punitive damages; (4) restitution and other forms of equitable monetary relief; (5) attorneys’ fees and costs; and (6) any other relief the court deems just and proper.
Both the CLRA and UCL are powerful tools in California for class action plaintiffs. The CLRA applies to “consumer” transactions involving the “sale or lease of goods or services,” and prohibits 24 separate business acts or practices. Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1761, 1770. And the UCL forbids “unfair, unlawful and fraudulent” conduct in connection with a vast array of business activities. Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. We’ll keep an eye on this case to see if Annie’s decides to move to dismiss or merely answer the complaint.