Court Opinion of the Day: Sugawara v. Pepsico

Ken AshfordCourts/Law1 Comment

Capn-crunchs-crunch-berries-cereal-box The plaintiff: A class action brought by Janine Sugawara, on behalf of all buyers and eaters of "Cap'n Crunch With Crunchberries"

The defendant:  Pepsico, the owner, marketer, and distributor of "Cap'n Crunch With Crunchberries"

The allegations:  Pepsico engaged in fraud, breach of warrenty, false advertising, as well as unfair and deceptive trade practices, by making and selling cereal with "crunchberries" that aren't berries at all.  This misleads the consumer into thinking (incorrectly) that the cereal contains fruit and is therefore healthy and nutricious.

The court opinion (pdf):  The plaintiff loses because the plaintiff is an idiot.  (Actually, the court uses a "reasonable consumer" standard.  And it found that a "reasonable consumer" would know that the crunchberries aren't actually fruit.  Prior courts held the same when similar lawsuits were brought against "Fruit Loops").

Favorite part of the opinion:

In this case . . . while the challenged packaging contains the word "berries" it does so only in conjunction with the descriptive term "crunch." This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a "crunchberry." Furthermore, the "Crunchberries" depicted on the [box] are round, crunchy, brightly-colored cereal balls, and the [box] clearly states both that the Product contains "sweetened corn & oat cereal" and that the cereal is "enlarged to show texture." Thus, a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist. . . . So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world.

Case closed.