(CN) - A consumer advocacy group's lawsuit challenging General Mills' claim that Cheerios lowers cholesterol can't be tried in federal court, because it is not a class action, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled.
The National Consumers League said General Mills violated D.C. code by claiming Cheerios had "drug-quality properties that would reduce total and 'bad' cholesterol levels when eaten," according to a lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court.
General Mills removed the case to federal court, saying it qualified for removal as a class action or under the court's diversity jurisdiction. It argued that the consumer protection group had standing to sue in federal court because of the money spent fighting General Mills' allegedly illegal practices.
But U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy said the case is not a removable class action. The National Consumers League brought the suit on behalf of the general public, which falls under the exception to the class-action mandate, he concluded.
"Challenging conduct like General Mills' alleged mislabeling is the very purpose of consumer advocacy organizations," Kennedy wrote.
He granted the group's emergency motion to remand.
The National Consumers League seeks $1,500 per violation of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. According to the ruling, General Mills sold more than 3 million boxes of Cheerios from June 2008 through May 2009.
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