Federal judge tosses mislabeling class-action suit against See’s Candy Shops
Plaintiff failed to show sales of mislabeled candies exceeded $5 million.
August 9, 2017
A California federal judge has thrown out an 18-month-old class-action suit against See’s Candy Shops, Inc., alleging the company had mislabeled some Valentine’s Day candy as kosher.
In a nine-page order handed down last week, U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen said New Jersey resident Avi Weiss had failed to demonstrate that sales of the candy allegedly subject to mislabeling had exceeded $5 million, the threshold outlined in the Class Action Fairness Act.
Weiss, with help from two California law firms, filed a class-action suit in February 2016 after he purchased a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates from a See’s Candies location in Los Angeles. An identifying placard hung above the boxes allegedly indicated the candies were kosher, though they weren’t.
Weiss said he wouldn’t have purchased the candy if he knew they were not kosher-certified. As a result, he sought damages on behalf of any customers who purchased within four years of the first filing that a product from a See’s Candies Shop was marketed as kosher-certified when the product was not. He estimated “thousands” of customers were in the class.
See’s Candy Shops, which achieves kosher certification for its products through Kosher Supervision of America (KSA), said the certification is in effect only when the KSA logo appears on the factory-sealed packaging. The heart-shaped boxes in question did not have the KSA logo, court documents say.
However, on learning of the lawsuit, See’s pulled the placards for the heart-shaped boxes with the KSA logo, issued a press release about the error and offered a refund. Revenue from the heart-shaped boxes sold under the incorrect placard was redacted in public court records.
See’s also launched an investigation into price cards for other non-kosher items sold over the four years preceding the suit. While the sales total was redacted, it apparently did not meet the $5 million threshold. See’s also argued that Weiss also did not provide evidence indicating it would meet the threshold.
Chen agreed, granting See’s order to dismiss the case.
“Here, See’s did provide evidence to show that the amount in controversy is less than the total sales of its kosher products -- i.e. that any mislabeling constituted only a tiny subset of the total sales of kosher products,” he wrote. “Mr. Weiss...has failed to show that portion exceeds $5 million.”
See’s was represented by the Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton law firm.