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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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White Chocolate Class Action Can Proceed

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Ghirardelli is still on the hook in a federal class action that complains its white chocolate chips do not contain any white chocolate.

Scott Miller bought a package of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips in June, and discovered the next day that they did not taste like white chocolate.

"He reviewed the ingredients list on the packaging and noticed that the white chips contained no white chocolate, cocoa, or cocoa butter," according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler's background summary.

In his class action, Miller claimed Ghirardelli misrepresented the white chocolate content in its chocolate chips, wafers, white chocolate flavor, mocha mix, and frappes.

He sued for violations of California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act, false advertising, unfair competition, and common-law fraud.

Miller sued in San Francisco Superior Court in August, and Ghirardelli removed the case to Federal Court.

The case has not yet reached class certification stage. Ghirardelli sought dismissal.

Ghirardelli claimed that Miller did not have standing to sue over white chocolate products he did not buy.

Judge Beeler agreed, and found Miller had standing to sue only over the white chocolate chips.

The four other Ghirardelli products Miller complained about are all different from each other, both in labeling and composition, the judge found.

"This is not the type of case where similar products or similar misrepresentations injured Miller in the same way as the unnamed plaintiffs," Beeler wrote.

But Miller has standing to sue Ghirardelli over the chocolate chips.

"The court does not disagree with Ghirardelli that 'assessing a label's deceptiveness requires evaluating label statements in context,'" Beeler wrote. "Reading this label as a whole and in context with the allegations about the marketing, the court cannot say, as a matter of law, that no reasonable consumer would be deceived by the baking chips label."

Beeler also found that Miller's allegations are sufficient to state a claim for fraud, and refused to dismiss that claim.

"For the reasons discussed above, the court GRANTS Ghirardelli's motion on the ground that Miller lacks standing for the products he did not purchase and DENIES the motion in all other respects. Miller may file an amended complaint within 21 days."

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