Kettle Brand Potato Chips Contain Synthetic Ingredients, Class Action Says

The maker of Kettle brand potato chips is once again under fire over allegations its potato chips are falsely labeled as being “Made with Natural Ingredients” and containing “No Preservatives”.

Plaintiff Denise Mason filed the false advertising class action lawsuit against Diamond Foods in New York federal court this week, claiming its Kettle brand potato chips are falsely labeled as being made with natural ingredients and without preservatives, when in fact they contain the synthetic preservative citric acid.

Consumers have become increasingly conscious in purchasing less processed foods free of additives and are willing to pay more for products that are made with natural ingredients and are free of preservatives. The Kettle brand potato chips class action lawsuit says that Diamond Foods has opted to mislead consumers as to the true nature of their products in order to capitalize on this consumer health trend.

Specifically, the Kettle brand potato chips products at issue in this class action lawsuit include:

  • Organic Sea Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Krinkle Cut Potato Chips
  • Backyard Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Chili Lime Potato Chips
  • Buffalo Bleu Krinkle Cut Potato Chips
  • Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips
  • Pepperoncini Potato Chips
  • Tropical Salsa Potato Chips
  • Fiery Thai Potato Chips
  • Country Style Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Honey Dijon Potato Chips
  • New York Cheddar Potato Chips

Mason claims that the “No Preservatives” labeling deceives consumers into believing that they are receiving healthier, preservative-free potato chips. Similarly, the “Made with Natural Ingredients” representations are misleading because the Kettle brand potato chips reportedly contain the preservative citric acid – a synthetic compound produced from certain strands of the black mold fungus Aspergillus niger, which is mass produced – as well as the chemical solvent sulfuric acid.

According to the Kettle brand potato chips class action lawsuit, Mason claims she relied on Diamond Foods’ labeling and had she and other consumers known the truth, they would not have purchased the Kettle brand potato chips.

Additionally, the complaint notes that “consumers cannot discover the true nature of the Products from reading the label” and that “discovery of the true nature of the content of the Products requires knowledge of chemistry that is not available to the average reasonable consumer.”

This is not the first time Diamond Foods has been accused of falsely marketing Kettle brand potato chips. In 2015, the company settled a similar class action lawsuit alleging its Kettle brand potato chips were falsely labeled as being “natural” or “preservative-free”.

In bringing this false advertising class action lawsuit, Mason is seeking to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased the Kettle brand potato chip products, along with a New York subclass. She is asking for an order requiring “proper, complete, and accurate labeling of the Products,” as well as monetary and punitive damages.

Mason is represented by Michael J. Gabrielli of Gabrielli Levitt LLP

The Kettle Brand Potato Chips False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Denise Mason v. Diamond Foods LLC d/b/a Kettle Foods Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-06423-GHW, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Volkswagen Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Brake Safety Systems Don’t Work

Volkswagen has been hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly misrepresenting the brake safety systems in nearly 100,000 of its 2016 and 2017 models, including the Jetta, Passat, and several Golf vehicles.

Plaintiff Michael D’Amore brought the class action complaint against Volkswagen in state court back in April, but the case was recently transferred to federal court. D’Amore is challenging Volkswagen’s alleged deceptive representations and omission regarding the brake safety systems of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles sold in California.

According to the Volkswagen Brake Safety System class action lawsuit, D’Amore purchased a 2017 Passat specifically because it contained safety features that provided for autonomous braking at speeds over 25 miles per hour. In fact, upon purchasing his 2017 Passat, D’ Amore was given and read the owner’s manual for his new vehicle which contained a representation that the 2017 Passat has high-speed autonomous braking system as a standard feature. But, while driving his 2017 Passat in excess of 25 mph, D’Amore contends he did not experience any warning – visual or auditory – nor did his vehicle engage in any autonomous braking.

Volkswagen has represented itself as one of the safest automobile brands manufacturing and selling vehicles in America. “It brakes when you don’t,” was a pledge made in commercials to American consumers when Volkswagen tried to sell its 2016 models. Volkswagen represented that its 2016 and 2017 models contained two technology systems: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (the “Systems”) and campaigned to capitalize on safety concerns of consumers, including those with children, the lawsuit indicates.

“Despite these representations, at no point in 2016 or 2017 did these brake safety systems properly work at speeds over 18 miles per hour. Not only did Volkswagen’s misrepresentation of the brake safety systems diminish the value of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles, Volkswagen endangered the owners and drivers who relied on the safety technology promised, warranted and sold in its 2016 and 2017 vehicles.”

D’Amore claims he, and other consumers, were duped by Volkswagen, contending that the vehicles never had such safety technology and that Volkswagen knew it. Volkswagen’s alleged knowledge of this defect, is based, in part, on the results of published unbiased testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Based on IIHS testing, not one of the tested Volkswagen cars had any high-speed auto-brake technology that would reduce speed in a meaningful way, when the vehicle was traveling over 25 miles per hour. For instance, as reported by the IIHS, the 2016 and 2017 Passat speed was reduced by 0 miles per hour when the Passat was traveling at 25 miles per hour.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety class action lawsuit goes on to state that he, and other Volkswagen car owners, would not have purchased the vehicles, or would have paid substantially less had they known the safety systems did not properly operate. D’Amore seeks to represent a Class of all current and former owners of the following Volkswagen vehicles who reside in the State of California and/or who purchased or leased the vehicles listed below in California:

  • 2016 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, GolfSportWagen
  • 2016 CC
  • 2016 Jetta
  • 2016 Passat
  • 2017 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, Golf Alltrack, GolfSportWagen
  • 2017 CC
  • 2017 Jetta
  • 2017 Passat

D’Amore is represented by Ari E. Moss of Moss Bollinger LLP and Mary Niefert and Anoiel Khorshid of Niefert Korshid APLC.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety System Class Action Lawsuit is D’Amore et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-5682, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Ben & Jerry’s Class Action Says Ice Cream Comes From “Inhumane Dairy Farms”

Ben & Jerry’s is being called to task over allegations its ice cream isn’t actually humanely sourced from “happy cows” as their advertising and packaging claims.

The Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public interest organization filed the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit earlier this month, alleging that the ice cream products are sourced from inhumane dairy farms and some of the products contain traces of environmentally harmful biocide. OCA was formed in 1998 and deals with crucial issues of truth in advertising, accurate food labeling, food safety, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, environmental sustainability, and related topics.

According to the lawsuit, Unilever – the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s – markets its ice cream products as being made from milk produced by “happy cows” raised in “Caring Dairies”. Consumers are being led to believe that the ice cream they are purchasing and consuming is made using animal-raising practices that more humane than those used on regular factory-style, mass-production dairy operations, the complaint contends.

Additionally, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit states that Unilever portrays that their ice cream products are produced in an environmentally responsible manner, claiming their ice cream products “respect the Earth and the Environment,’ are made with ‘values-led sourcing,’ and are part of ‘Ben & Jerry’s […] long history of fighting for climate justice and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of our business.”

However, in contrast to Unilever’s representations about climate justice and reducing environmental impact, some of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products contain glyphosate, a synthetic biocide suspected, including by consumers, to have detrimental environmental effects, the complaint alleges. Some of the varieties of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream alleged to have tested positive glyphosate or its byproducts are:

  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Phish Food
  • The Tonight Dough
  • Half Baked
  • Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Americone Dream; and
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

It is common now for consumers to consider how their food is produced and the effects of that production on animals and the environment. As a result, demand has increased for products that provide assurances regarding animal welfare and also for “green” products – that is, products that are farmed and processed using environmentally responsible practices. Consumers, as Unilever knows, are willing to pay more for products marketed this way and capitalize on this demand deceptively, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream class action lawsuit asserts.

“By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of the Products, Unilever is able to sell a greater volume of the Products, to charge higher prices for the Products, and to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits.”

OCA is seeking declaratory relief in the form of an order declaring Unilever’s conduct to be unlawful, as well as and injunctive relief calling for the company to include a full and clear disclosure of how its ice cream is sourced and the presence of glyphosate in its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They are bringing this deceptive advertising lawsuit on behalf of its members and the general public.

The Organic Consumers Association is represented by Kim. E. Richman of Richman Law Group.

The Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Class Action Lawsuit is Organic Consumers Association v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Case No. Unknown, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.

Apple Class Action Says Every Apple Watch Model Is Defective

A nationwide consumer class action lawsuit filed against Apple claims that every single Apple Watch model is defective and is seeking to hold the tech giant accountable to its customers to the tune of $5 million.

Plaintiff Kenneth Sciaccia of Colorado filed the lawsuit in federal court last week seeking justice for him and other Apple Watch purchasers. Sciacca alleges that the Apple watches all contain the same defect which causes the screens on the watches to crack, shatter, or detach from the body of the watch, through no fault of the wearer, and oftentimes only days or weeks after purchase.

Apple starting selling its watches in April 2015, when it introduced its Series 0 Watches to consumers. Since then, the company has released two additional generations of the Apple Watch: the Series 1 and Series 2 watches; and the Series 3 Watch.

According to the Apple Watch class action lawsuit, shortly after the release of the Series 0, consumers began to complain that their screens on their Apple Watches were spontaneously detaching from the body of their Watches. Apple denied any widespread issue with Series 0 Watches, but in April 2017, Apple acknowledged a swelling battery defect in certain Series 0 Watches and extended its Limited Warranty for qualifying Series 0 Watches from one year to three years.

Apple began to sell its Series 1 and Series 2 Watches in September 2016. Shortly thereafter, consumers who purchased the Series 1 and Series 2 Watches complained that the screens on their Series 1 and Series 2 Watches had cracked, shattered, or completely detached from the body of their Watches. Like the Series 0 purchasers, these consumers took their defective watches to Apple Stores, contacted Apple Support, and posted their complaints on the “Communities” forum on apple.com. Still, Apple denied any widespread issue but similarly acknowledged a swelling battery defect in certain Series 2 Watches and extended its Limited Warranty for qualifying Apple Watches. Similar situations also occurred with Series 3 Apple Watches.

In Sciaccia’s case, he purchased a Series 2 Stainless Steel 38mm Apple Watch in December 2016. Around March 2018, the screen on Sciacca’s Apple Watch unexpectedly detached from the body shortly after he removed the watch from its charger. Sciacca says he contacted a certified Apple Store where store employees examined Sciacca’s Watch and verified the issue, but determined that the Watch’s screen detached because of “non-warrantable damage,” rather than a swollen battery. Because the employees determined Sciacca’s Watch was not covered under Apple’s Limited Warranty, they quoted him $249 to repair his Watch. Sciacca declined this offer.

Sadly, Sciacca’s experience is reportedly identical to the experiences of thousands of Apple Watch owners. Apple forums are full of complaints about the defective watches and Apple’s refusal to cover its product under its Limited Warranty. Indeed, Apple’s response in each case is the same: it implicitly or expressly blames the consumer for the Defect and refuses to cover repairs under the Limited Warranty.

By bringing this class action lawsuit, Sciacca hopes to hold Apple accountable for the alleged defective watches. He is seeking to represent a Class consisting of all current and former consumer owners of all models and sizes of First Generation, Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watches purchased in the United States, as well as a Colorado subclass.

Sciacca and the proposed classes are represented by Kolin C. Tan of Shepherd Finkelman Miller & Shah LLP.

The Apple Watch Class Action Lawsuit is Sciacca v. Apple Inc., Case No. 5:18-cv-3312, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.