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Putative Class Action Against TGI Friday’s Dismissed

Lori Lustrin, Melissa C. Pallett-Vasquez & Benjamin Mitchel

On June 8, 2020, Judge Katherine Polk Failla in the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action against TGI Friday’s (“Friday’s”) for alleged deceptive advertising.

The Plaintiff claimed the labeling of Friday’s “Sour Cream & Onion Potato Skins” chips is misleading because it led her to believe the snack contained real potato skins and was thus a healthier option than most chips. According to the Plaintiff, she—and the members of the putative class she sought to represent—would not have purchased the purportedly falsely labeled chips if she had known they did not contain real potato skins.

The Court was unconvinced. Judge Polk Failla concluded that a reasonable consumer would understand the obvious differences in nutrition, substance, and taste between a bag of prepackaged snack chips and a hot appetizer prepared in a restaurant. Additionally, the Court pointed to a total lack of evidence that Friday’s was involved in the chips’ packaging, noting that Friday’s had licensed its trademark to Inventure Foods Inc., the manufacturer of the product, and a separately named defendant in the case. Plaintiff’s fraud claims against the manufacturer survived.

The case represents the latest in a growing trend of dismissals of food and beverage mislabeling complaints. Indeed, federal district court judges across the country are growing increasingly skeptical of class action claims grounded on unreasonable consumer expectations disassociated from actual, concrete harm to consumers.

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