Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - A series of lawsuits filed against the granola bar make KIND LLC over the nutritional marketing of its KIND snack bars were consolidated into multidistrict litigation following a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) hearing on July 29. The lawsuits claim that certain marketing statements made by the granola bar manufacturer were false and misleading in relation to the nutritional value of the defendant‘s snack products. The claims were consolidated from lawsuits filed in California, Illinois and New York.
At least 12 separate actions stemming from 7 were consolidated into an MDL that will be transferred to the Southern District of New York. The original motion to transfer, filed June 1, listed the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and the Central District of California federal courts as possible destinations for the MDL. The JPML eventually transferred the lawsuits to the Southern District of New York, claiming that the location of the KIND LLC headquarters in that district completed their decision to certify the lawsuits nearby. A number of plaintiffs also listed New York federal courts as their preferred location for a possible MDL.
Only four KIND granola bars were named in the motion to transfer: KIND Fruit & Nut 1
Almond & Apricot, KIND Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark
Chocolate + Protein and KIND Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants. The lawsuits claim that some of these granola bars contained alarming rates of saturated fat, contrary to what could be allowed while labeling the snack healthy. The lawsuits also claim that the amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats included in the granola bars were not listed. This brought into question the health claims made by KIND LLC that their products contained no trans fats.
The specific wording of the alleged misleading information named in the lawsuit include the messaging that described KIND granola bars as "all natural" and "healthy," including a range of other designators that claimed the snack was a good source of fiber and contained no trans fats. THe plaintiffs claim that in contrast to these claims, KIND granola bars in fact contained high amounts of saturated fats, genetically modified ingredients and had poor nutritional value.
The claims against KIND LLC allege that in light of these facts and the marketing claims made by the company, the defendant violated both the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as well as state consumer protection statutes. The plaintiffs claim that the standards set by the FDA for a food to be deemed healthy were not met by KIND granola bars and as a consequence the products could not be legally advertised as such.
The plaintiffs are suing on behalf of any consumer who purchased at least one KIND granola bar since April 17, 2011, claiming that the consumers over this time were deceived by KIND LLC and unjustly enriched the defendant as a result. The lawsuits will enter multidistrict litigation, where all the claims will be consolidated before a single federal judge in a move that will help eliminate duplicate discovery and improve the efficiency of the litigation by promoting coordination among the nationwide lawsuits.