A class action lawsuit accusing Twinings North America Inc. of falsely promoting the antioxidant properties of over 50 tea blends can continue for products the plaintiff didn’t buy, according to a ruling denying the company’s motion to dismiss or strike the claims.
U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte ruled May 23, 2013, that lead plaintiff Nancy Lanovaz can bring claims based on tea products she did not actually purchase as long as they are made from the same plant.
In her class action lawsuit filed last year, Lanovaz says she paid a premium price for Twinings’ green and black tea and wouldn’t have purchased it without the allegedly unlawful labeling that the tea is a “natural source of antioxidants.”
In an amended complaint, Lanovaz added numerous products that she did not purchase but that contained the same exact label as the products she did purchase.
Twinings challenged the amended class action lawsuit and asked the court to strike all claims regarding products she did not buy and labeling or advertising which she did not see or rely on.
Judge Whyte rejected the bid, ruling that 51 of the 53 tea blends that Lanovaz alleges are falsely labeled are made from the same camellia sinensis plant and are therefore the same product.
“Because the claims for 51 of the varieties of tea are based upon the exact same label describing the same product, camellia sinensis, the court finds that Lanovaz has standing to sue on behalf of the purchasers of these teas and thus denies Twinings’ motion with respect to these products,” Judge Whyte said. “Red tea, on the other hand, is made from a different plant and is thus a significantly different product.”
Accordingly, Whyte excluded the two varieties of red tea that were not purchased by Lanovaz from the class action lawsuit, but allowed her to proceed with claims based upon the “natural source of antioxidants” label appearing on green, black and white teas.
Lanovaz is alleging Twinings violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. She is seeking monetary and injunctive relief for all consumers who purchased Twinings tea based on the alleged false labels.
The Twinings Tea False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit case is Lanovaz v. Twinings North America Inc., Case No. 12-cv-02646, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Lanovaz is represented by Ben F. Pierce Gore of Pratt & Associates.
UPDATE 1: The Twinnings Tea class action lawsuit survived a second dismissal attempt on Jan. 6, 2014.
UPDATE 2: A federal judge certified the Twinings tea class action lawsuit on April 24, 2014.
UPDATE 3: On Mar. 17, 2016, in a motion for summary judgment, Twinings argued that the plaintiffs failed to show evidence that a “reasonable consumer” was likely to be deceived by the statement “natural source of antioxidants.”
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