On June 11, 2022, Plaintiffs Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Barilla pasta company over alleged false advertising. The plaintiffs claim Barilla deliberately deceives shoppers into believing fifty-four of Barilla’s pasta products are made in Italy by labeling some pastas as “ITALY’S #1 BRAND OF PASTA” while replicating Italy’s national flag’s green, white, and red colors:
Contrary to this labeling, the plaintiffs claim Barilla’s pasta products are not made in Italy, do not use ingredients from Italy, and are not manufactured in Italy.
According to Barilla’s website, Barilla pasta that is sold in the United States is made in Ames, IA and Avon, NY, “with a few exceptions.” Only the Barilla Tortellini and Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne are made in Italy. Barilla’s website also notes the same recipes are used in the United States and Italy, and that the pastas are made by the same types of machines.
The Complaint argues “authentic Italian products, including pastas, hold a certain prestige and [are] generally viewed as a higher quality product,” and that “consumers willingly pay more for Italian sounding and/or looking products.” Indeed, the plaintiffs both argue they would not have purchased Barilla’s pasta products if they had known the pastas were made in the United States. Rather, they would have chosen cheaper alternatives.
The plaintiffs assert five causes of action against Barilla: violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”); violation of California’s False Advertising Law (“FAL”); violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”); breach of warranty; and unjust enrichment/restitution.
Barilla moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue their claims and that the plaintiffs’ claims were deficient. The Northern District of California granted the motion in part and denied in part.
The Court agreed with Barilla that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue injunctive relief under their UCL, FAL, CLRA, and breach of warranty claims. The Court explained the plaintiffs “cannot plausibly allege that they remain unaware that the products are manufactured in the United States from ingredients that are not from Italy or that they reasonably would be misled if they encounter the Challenged Representation in the future.” Thus, the plaintiffs’ claim for injunctive relief was dismissed with leave to amend.
However, the Court rejected the rest of Barilla’s arguments and declined to dismiss any other claim. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ claims will move forward, with an initial case management conference scheduled for November 2, 2022.