Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mantikas v. Kellogg Co.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 31, 2017

KRISTEN MANTIKAS, KRISTIN BURNS, and LINDA CASTLE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
KELLOGG COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SANDRA J. FEUERSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Kristen Mantikas, Kristin Burns, and Linda Castle (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) commenced this action against Defendant Kellogg Company (“Defendant” or “Kellogg”), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, seeking monetary and injunctive relief for, inter alia, Defendant's alleged violation of: (i) N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 349 and 350; (ii) Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 and 17500; and (iii) Cal. Civ. Code § 1750. See Docket Entry (“DE”) [1]. Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which Plaintiffs oppose. DE [17]. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted in its entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are drawn from the Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the instant motion.

         A. Factual Background

         Defendant Kellogg is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business located at One Kellogg Square, Battle Creek, Michigan. Compl., DE [1], ¶¶ 36-37. Kellogg manufactures, markets, and sells “Cheez-It Whole Grain” crackers (the “Crackers” or the “Product”) in major retail stores nationwide. Id. at ¶ 1. Kellogg promotes the Crackers as “whole grain” crackers, and the box in which the Crackers are sold states, inter alia, either “WHOLE GRAIN” or “MADE WITH WHOLE GRAIN” and either “MADE WITH 5g OF WHOLE GRAIN PER SERVING” or “MADE WITH 8g OF WHOLE GRAIN PER SERVING.” Id. at ¶¶ 2, 50. Two (2) examples of the Crackers' packaging are seen below:

         (Image Omitted)

         Id. at ¶ 50; see also Declaration of Kenneth Lee in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Class Action Complaint (“Lee Decl.”), DE [17-2], Ex. A. According to Plaintiffs, “‘[w]hole grains' are grains that include the entire grain seed-its endosperm, bran, and germ.” Compl. ¶ 43. In contrast, “‘[n]on-whole grains or ‘refined grains' have been processed to remove their bran and germ, thereby removing the dietary fiber and most other nutrients.” Id. at ¶ 44. According to Plaintiffs, “[consumers, cognizant of the healthfulness of whole grains relative to non-whole grains, are increasingly purchasing whole grain products.” Id. at ¶ 47. Plaintiffs allege that “Kellogg's ‘WHOLE GRAIN' representation . . . is false and misleading, because the primary ingredient in Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers is enriched white flour.” Id. at ¶ 3.

         Plaintiff Mantikas is a resident of New York who purchased the Crackers approximately one (1) time per week from Stop and Shop and Target stores located in Glen Cove, New York. Id. at ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiffs Burns and Church are residents of California. Id. at ¶¶ 18, 28. Burns purchased the Crackers approximately one (1) time per week for several years from Safeway stores in San Jose, California, and Church purchased the Crackers a total of three (3) times from Ralph's Market in Torrance, California. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 29. Plaintiffs each purchased boxes of the Crackers that “contained the representation that they were ‘WHOLE GRAIN' on the front” in “large” and “conspicuous” font. Id. at ¶¶ 12, 21, 30. Plaintiffs relied upon “the ‘WHOLE GRAIN' representation in making [their] purchase decisions, and would not have purchased the products had [they] known they were not, in fact, predominantly whole grain.” Id. at ¶¶ 13, 22, 31. According to Plaintiffs, they “paid for ‘WHOLE GRAIN' Cheez-It crackers, but . . . received products that were not predominantly whole grain.” Id. at ¶¶ 14, 23, 32. Plaintiffs allege that the crackers they received “were worth less than the crackers for which [they] paid, ” and that they were “injured in fact and lost money as a result of Defendant's improper conduct.” Id. at ¶¶ 16, 26, 34. Plaintiffs further allege that they can no longer “purchase the products because [they] cannot be confident that the labeling of the product is, and will be, truthful and non-misleading.” Id. at ¶¶ 17, 27, 35.

         B. Procedural Background

         By way of a May 19, 2016 Class Action Complaint, Plaintiffs commenced this purported class action against Kellogg, seeking both monetary and injunctive relief. DE [1]. Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that they “read and relied on Kellogg's false and misleading labeling in purchasing Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers, including the representation that the crackers were ‘WHOLE GRAIN.'” Compl. ¶ 57. According to Plaintiffs, “Kellogg deliberately capitalizes on foreseeable consumer misconceptions about Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers in its marketing and sales scheme, ” and has therefore “reaped, and continues to reap, increased sales and profits.” Id. at ¶¶ 63, 65. Mantikas asserts causes of action arising under N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 349 and 350, both individually and on behalf of a proposed subclass including all “persons residing in New York who have purchased Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers for their own use . . . since May 19, 2010.” Id. at ¶ 68, 90-104. Burns and Castle assert causes of action arising under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 and 17500 and Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, both individually and on behalf of a proposed subclass including all “persons residing in California who have purchased Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers for their own use . . . since May 19, 2012.” Id. at ¶¶ 69, 105-40. All Plaintiffs also assert a claim for unjust enrichment under Michigan law, both individually and on behalf of “[a]ll persons residing in the United States and its territories who have purchased Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers for their own use (which includes feeding their families), and not for resale, since May 19, 2010.” Id. at ¶¶ 66-67, 82-89.

         On October 7, 2016, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). DE [17]. With respect to Plaintiffs' claims arising under New York's and California's consumer protection laws, [1] Kellogg argues, inter alia, that because “Plaintiffs do not dispute that whole grains are indeed one of the ingredients in Cheez-It” crackers, Plaintiffs “have failed to plausibly show that a reasonable consumer would likely be deceived by the Cheez-It packaging.” See Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Class Action Complaint (“Def.'s Mem.”), DE [17-1], at 1. Defendant further argues that “Plaintiffs' state [consumer protection] law claims must also be dismissed because they are preempted under federal law.” Id. at 10-13. With respect to Plaintiffs' claim for unjust enrichment under Michigan law, Defendant argues that: (i) as residents of New York and California, Plaintiffs lack standing to assert a claim arising under Michigan law; (ii) Plaintiffs' allegations fail to state a plausible claim for unjust enrichment; and (iii) Plaintiffs' attempt to apply Michigan law to a nationwide class is improper. Id. at 13-16. In opposition to the instant motion, Plaintiffs argue, inter alia, that “[a] reasonable consumer would rely on the large-print representations on the front of the box as an accurate description of its contents, ” and that “Defendant intends to convey that the grain in Cheez-It Whole Grain is from whole grain and not refined grain and, consequently, a healthy and nutritious product.” See Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Class Action Complaint (“Pls.' Opp'n”), DE [17-3], at 1.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007)). A claim is considered plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. In deciding a motion to dismiss, “a court must ‘accept all allegations in the complaint as true and draw all inferences in the non-moving party's favor.'” U.S. ex rel. Siegel v. Roche Diagnostics Corp., 988 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.