Steele v. Wegmans Food Mkts., Inc., 19 Civ. 9227 (LLS)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Writing for the CourtLOUIS L. STANTON, U.S.D.J.
Citation472 F.Supp.3d 47
Decision Date14 July 2020
Docket Number19 Civ. 9227 (LLS)
Parties Quincy STEELE and Jimmy Arriola, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs v. WEGMANS FOOD MARKETS, INC., Defendants

472 F.Supp.3d 47

Quincy STEELE and Jimmy Arriola, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs
v.
WEGMANS FOOD MARKETS, INC., Defendants

19 Civ. 9227 (LLS)

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

Signed July 14, 2020


Christopher Patalano, St. James, NY, Spencer Sheehan, Sheehan & Associates, P.C., Great Neck, NY, for Plaintiffs.

August T. Horvath, Foley Hoag LLP, New York, NY, for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

LOUIS L. STANTON, U.S.D.J.

In this putative class action, defendant Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. moves to dismiss plaintiffs Quincy Steele and Jimmy Arriola's first amended complaint ("FAC") (Dkt. No. 10) pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 9(b). For the following reasons, the motion (Dkt. No. 13) is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs sue Wegmans, a grocery store chain and food manufacturer, for claimed deceptive acts or practices in violation of federal, New York, and Pennsylvania statutes and standards, false advertising, common-law negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.

Nevertheless, the case comes down to two decisive questions: did the label on the ice cream container misrepresent the container's contents? and did the elaborate gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis plaintiffs’ chemists performed show there was fraudulently little vanilla bean extract in the ice cream?

The answers to each of those questions being No, the complaint is dismissed.

A picture included in the FAC of the packaging of the product in question and its ingredient list is below.

472 F.Supp.3d 49

Plaintiffs contend they were deceived by Wegmans to believe that ice cream they bought from Wegmans got its vanilla flavor from vanilla beans or vanilla bean extract, when in fact the ice cream got most of its vanilla flavor from some non-vanilla source. FAC ¶¶ 5, 6 ("Defendant's Product contains non-vanilla flavor, a de minimis amount of vanilla and to the extent it tastes like vanilla, such flavor is contributed by vanillin from non-vanilla sources. The Product is not truthfully or lawfully identified as ‘Vanilla Ice Cream’ which misleads consumers.").

Plaintiffs’ claim that Wegmans’ ice cream is flavored by artificial flavors, not natural vanilla flavor, has no factual support, since the test performed does not show that. Plaintiffs’ claim that Wegmans’ label is misleading under the law requires some explanation, but also fails.

DISCUSSION

The Federal and State Statutes

The food, and ice cream, business is closely regulated, in ways described for many pages in the complaint. The primary federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act deals generally with food, not with flavoring, 21 U.S.C. § 343(g), and its enforcement is left to the federal and State (if the food is located within the State) authorities. There is no private civil right of action for breaches of its provisions. See 21 U.S.C. § 337. The New York Agriculture and Markets Law, which in its ice cream regulations, 1 NYCRR 17.19, adopted the federal ice cream regulations, is also administered by a Commissioner who investigates and may sue for penalties. N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 35. No private civil actions can be inferred; the legislature created such a right of action only when it wished to ( N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 378(3), dealing with tampering with animal research).

Thus, in this private civil action, the extensive discussion and argument in the motion papers with respect to particular federal standards for ice cream flavor descriptions is without consequence. PDK Labs Inc. v. Friedlander, 103 F.3d 1105, 1113 (2d Cir. 1997) (Plaintiff's "dogged...

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34 practice notes
  • Empire Pipeline, Inc. v. Town of Pendleton, 17-CV-141S
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 14 Julio 2020
    ...are preempted by the Natural Gas Act and FERC proceedings issued thereunder for Plaintiffs’ FERC-approved gas pipeline project, see 472 F.Supp.3d 47 Islander E. Pipeline v. Blumenthal, supra, 478 F. Supp. 2d at 297, including the siting, construction and operation of the Pendleton compressi......
  • Colpitts v. Blue Diamond Growers, 20 Civ. 2487 (JPC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 16 Marzo 2021
    ...Westbrae Nat., Inc. , No. 19 Civ. 9677 (PKC), 2021 WL 76331, at *1, 3-6 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 7, 2021) ; Steele v. Wegmans Food Mkts., Inc. , 472 F. Supp. 3d 47, 49-51 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) ; Cosgrove , 2020 WL 7211218, at *3-5 ; Pichardo , 2020 WL 6323775, at *3-6. Unlike the word "smokehouse,&quo......
  • Barreto v. Westbrae Natural, Inc., 19-cv-9677 (PKC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 7 Enero 2021
    ...v. Only What You Need, Inc., 20-cv-493, 2020 WL 6323775 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2020) (Judge Caproni); Steele v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., 472 F. Supp. 3d 47 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) (Judge Stanton); see also Clark v. Westbrae Nat., Inc., 20-cv-03221 (JSC), 2020 WL 7043879, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 202......
  • Budhani v. Monster Energy Co., 20-cv-1409 (LJL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 12 Marzo 2021
    ...label or advertisement as a whole.’ ") (quoting Wurtzburger , 2017 WL 6416296, at *3 ); Steele v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. , 472 F. Supp. 3d 47, 50 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) (evaluating the "messages on the container ... in sequence" in order to "analyze [their] total effect&quo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Empire Pipeline, Inc. v. Town of Pendleton, 17-CV-141S
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 14 Julio 2020
    ...are preempted by the Natural Gas Act and FERC proceedings issued thereunder for Plaintiffs’ FERC-approved gas pipeline project, see 472 F.Supp.3d 47 Islander E. Pipeline v. Blumenthal, supra, 478 F. Supp. 2d at 297, including the siting, construction and operation of the Pendleton compressi......
  • Colpitts v. Blue Diamond Growers, 20 Civ. 2487 (JPC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 16 Marzo 2021
    ...Westbrae Nat., Inc. , No. 19 Civ. 9677 (PKC), 2021 WL 76331, at *1, 3-6 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 7, 2021) ; Steele v. Wegmans Food Mkts., Inc. , 472 F. Supp. 3d 47, 49-51 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) ; Cosgrove , 2020 WL 7211218, at *3-5 ; Pichardo , 2020 WL 6323775, at *3-6. Unlike the word "smokehouse," however......
  • Barreto v. Westbrae Natural, Inc., 19-cv-9677 (PKC)
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 7 Enero 2021
    ...v. Only What You Need, Inc., 20-cv-493, 2020 WL 6323775 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2020) (Judge Caproni); Steele v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., 472 F. Supp. 3d 47 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) (Judge Stanton); see also Clark v. Westbrae Nat., Inc., 20-cv-03221 (JSC), 2020 WL 7043879, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 202......
  • Budhani v. Monster Energy Co., 20-cv-1409 (LJL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 12 Marzo 2021
    ...product label or advertisement as a whole.’ ") (quoting Wurtzburger , 2017 WL 6416296, at *3 ); Steele v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. , 472 F. Supp. 3d 47, 50 (S.D.N.Y. 2020) (evaluating the "messages on the container ... in sequence" in order to "analyze [their] total effect" on the consume......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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