New on the Menu: Class Actions Targeting Restaurants

by Morrison & Foerster LLP
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The trend among some states and municipalities to require restaurants to provide nutritional information on their menus has moved to the courts. A new flavor of class

action lawsuits has recently been filed in California and Texas alleging that several nationwide restaurant chains misrepresented nutritional information on their menus.

In California, two virtually identical cases were filed claiming that a nationwide restaurant chain misrepresented the nutritional content of its healthy fare menu. The first case was filed in federal court in Los Angeles on June 3, 2008. In this case, plaintiff seeks to represent a nationwide class of all persons who ordered items from the restaurant’s healthy fare menu, which is alleged to be

“hundreds of thousands or millions of Defendants’ customers throughout the United States...” Plaintiff asserts that independent laboratory analyses have shown that stated calorie, fat, and other nutritional information of the menu items are inaccurate, and are sometimes double or even triple the amount stated. Plaintiff alleges violations of the California Legal Remedies Act, the California Unfair

Competition Law, and the California False Advertising Law. The complaint seeks restitution of all amounts paid by plaintiff and class members for their meals. Plaintiff also seeks to enjoin defendants from alleged wrongful conduct, including “misrepresenting the nutritional content of their

menu items, facilitating the menu inaccuracies, and/or allowing the food to be prepared in a manner which changes the nutritional content without adequate disclosures...” Plaintiff also seeks an award of costs and attorneys’ fees. The second and most recent California case was filed in California state court in Alameda County on June 10, 2008. This case is virtually identical to the California federal action with the notable exception that plaintiff seeks to limit the class to California residents who patronized the restaurant.

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