A judge has tossed a California woman’s would-be class action lawsuit, however, finding that a reasonable consumer would not expect the brightly colored balls to be or contain actual berries or fruit. Per Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar: “Plaintiff did not explain why she could not reasonably have figured this out at any point during the four years she alleged she bought Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries in reliance on defendant’s fraud.” More: California Civil Justice (same law firm sued over Froot Loops); update from Lowering the Bar.
And: Hal Hewell of Hewell Law Firm, which filed the suit, writes in comments that neither the plaintiff
nor her first amended complaint stated that she believed “crunchberries” was a real fruit (check it out on Pacer, along with our motion for reconsideration to get the full story). Your contention that she did is simply false and has exposed her to widespread (and unwarranted) ridicule.
Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story…. You owe her an apology.
My response: Okay, let’s try to phrase things in a way highly favorable to Hewell and his client. The suit sought recovery against the cereal maker on the grounds a reasonable consumer would understand “Crunchberries” to contain actual fruit, whereas they apparently in fact contain only a little strawberry juice concentrate. (I’ve slightly expanded the first sentence above accordingly). In reaching his conclusion that the only course consistent with “personal responsibility and common sense” was to dismiss the case, the judge found it significant that it is common knowledge that no fruit known as a “crunchberry” grows wild or occurs naturally in any part of the world. Any reasonable consumer would therefore understand that the brightly colored balls must be a composite of ingredients not including that fictional berry, and (the judge found) could not reasonably claim to have been deceived by the monicker “CrunchBerries” into expecting something with more actual fruit content. Perhaps Mr. Hewell’s motion for reconsideration (PDF) will persuade the judge otherwise, and if so, I look forward to reporting that. (Update Jun. 15: judge denies reconsideration).