Chocolate Company Tastes Class Action Over National Origin Claims

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

In a new false advertising class action, a Virginia resident accused Godiva of deceptively promoting its chocolate products to make them seem as if they were made in Belgium—despite the fact that they are produced in Pennsylvania.

Kevin Fahey purchased Godiva chocolates with “Belgian 1926” displayed across the front of the packaging, believing that the product was Belgium-made. When he learned that Godiva chocolates sold in the United States are actually made in Reading, Pennsylvania, he filed suit.

According to Fahey, Belgium produces many of the world’s finest chocolates and consumers “pay a premium for chocolates emanating from this country.” To take advantage of this reputation, Godiva wants consumers to believe that its products are from Belgium, he told the court.

Godiva’s social media materials “are filled with innuendo” that its products are made in Belgium, Fahey asserted, with the phrase “Belgium 1926” emblazoned on its Facebook page, website and product packaging.

However, American-made Godiva chocolates differ from those produced in Belgium, Fahey alleged, citing the granddaughter of Godiva’s founder for support. “I’ve tried the American Godivas and they do taste different,” Melanie Draps told The Washington Post. In the same article, the president of Godiva Worldwide admitted that “Godiva’s American recipes must be altered” to account for different laws and regulations.

Fahey’s lawsuit—filed in the District of Columbia, where Godiva products are widely sold—seeks monetary and injunctive relief for violations of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Act (which allows for trebled damages).

To read the complaint in Fahey v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., click here.

Why it matters: Godiva faced a similar suit, filed in California federal court earlier this year, with nearly identical allegations. Although that case was voluntarily dismissed, the company now faces a second putative class action in D.C. federal court challenging the advertising of its chocolates.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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