Cruz-Alvarez and Forman Detail Class Certification Decision in Ocean Spray Case

Shook Partner Frank Cruz-Alvarez and Associate Rachel Forman have authored an article for WLF Legal Pulse examining a California federal court’s decision to certify a class of consumers alleging they were misled by Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.’s marketing claim that its products contain no artificial flavoring despite containing malic and fumaric acids. The decision has “thrown the doors open for class certification in food-labeling cases,” Cruz-Alvarez and Forman write.

“Although packaged-food businesses have responded to years of class-action lawsuits with labeling modifications that make their products less-inviting targets, decisions like Hilsley show that plaintiffs’ lawyers are equally creative and determined to keep the claims coming,” the authors conclude. “This is especially true for products labeled as ‘natural’ or free of artificial ingredients when those products arguably do contain synthetic ingredients, regardless of their purpose. That new angle might just be enough to survive something as rigorous as the class-certification analysis required under Comcast, as evidenced by this case.”