Consumers who bought what they thought was 100 percent pure olive oil that allegedly contained a far cheaper substitute can press on with their class action against Kangadis Food Inc., a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York refused to grant summary judgment to Kangadis on March 5, and certified the plaintiffs as a class. The case is Joseph Ebin v. Kangadis Food Inc.
The plaintiffs contend they and uncounted others in New York, New Jersey and perhaps other states relied on the “100 Percent Olive Oil” labels that appeared on five sides of the Capatriti tins in deciding to purchase the product.
The complaint alleges that a scientific analysis of the contents found not pure olive oil but an industrially processed substance known as olive pomace oil, produced from olive pits and leftover skins and treated with chemical solvents to produce a largely tasteless oil that is higher in trans fats and lower in antioxidents. Pomace oil is also about half as costly as pure olive oil, the judge’s memorandum says.
The plaintiffs allege that Kangadis, a food import and distribution company, violated consumer protection laws and committed breaches of warranties.
In its argument for summary judgment, Kangadis argued that pomace is, legally, olive oil and that plaintiffs cannot prove the tins they purchased did not contain 100 percent pure olive oil.
Lisa Hoffman is a contributor to law.com.