A court in Illinois, USA has rejected Quaker Oats’ motion to have a deceptive advertising case against it dismissed and has halted proceedings until four similar actions in California are resolved.
Private consumer Daniel Askin has alleged that Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal, Chewy Granola and Oatmeal To Go, mislead consumer by claiming to be “heart healthy” and “wholesome” when in fact they contain harmful trans-fats that are not stated on labels.
For example, Askin alleges that Quaker’s granola bars contain as much as 5 grams of trans-fat while labelling the product as containing “0g Trans Fat”.
His claim has been brought in the district court in Illinois by law firm Reese Richman. The Quaker Oats Company is owned by food and drink giant PepsiCo.
Bid to quash case
Quaker had requested that the case be dismissed under the ‘first to file’ rule as “mirror image” lawsuits are on-going in California.
The ‘first to file’ rule exists to prevent multiple actions and prefers reaching a resolution in a single lawsuit when similar cases are being heard.
Illinois Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim ruled that though the cases were almost identical, Quaker had “ignored the elephant in the room” which was that the ‘first to file’ principle is rarely the appropriate remedy.
He said that the best course of action was to stay proceedings (postpone) until the California cases were complete as it would simplify questions at issue in this case.
The four Californian cases are being processed in California federal court as one consolidated action.
There is currently also a motion to dismiss this consolidated case.
Should this joint case be dismissed there is a strong possibility the action in Illinois will follow suit.