Class Certification Awarded in False Advertising Case Against Filippo Berio

A U.S. District Judge granted class certification to those who bought any brand Filippo Berio olive oil with the exception of their organic olive oil, between May 2010 and June 2015.

Jul. 26, 2016
By Sukhsatej Batra

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In a vic­tory for California con­sumers who filed a false adver­tis­ing case against Salov North America Corp, mak­ers of the Filippo Berio brand of olive oil, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to those who bought any brand Filippo Berio olive oil with the excep­tion of their organic olive oil, between May 2010 and June 2015. 

The rul­ing was in response to the motion request­ing for Class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in May 2016.
See Also: Complete Coverage of the Salov North America Class Action Case
The con­sumers, led by plain­tiff Rohini Kumar, claim that the Imported From Italy” state­ment on the front of the label of Filippo Berio brand of olive oil was decep­tive and mis­lead­ing to consumers. 

In their case, the plain­tiffs claimed that con­sumers buy the Filippo Berio brand of olive oil believ­ing it to be a prod­uct of Italy, when in fact, only a small por­tion of the oil is from Italy. 

The major­ity of the oil is actu­ally a mix­ture of olive oils pro­duced in Tunisia, Greece, and Spain that is shipped to Italy. The imported olive oil is blended with a small amount Italian olive oil before being bot­tled in Italy and labeled promi­nently on the front with the state­ment Imported from Italy.”

In its defense, Salov claimed that a state­ment at the back of the olive oil bot­tles near the best by” date, is a dis­claimer that reveals that the olive oil orig­i­nated from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. According to Salov, Kumar could not have missed read­ing the said dis­claimer that was close to the date that she claimed to have read. 

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In her rul­ing, how­ever, Judge Gonzalez Rogers, said that the court could not dis­re­gard Kumar’s tes­ti­mony that she had not read the dis­claimer, as Salov was suggesting.
See Also: Articles on Olive Oil Labeling
The judge also addressed Salov’s argu­ments that Kumar was not an ade­quate Class rep­re­sen­ta­tive and ques­tions regard­ing Kumar’s hon­esty and cred­i­bil­ity due to her drunken dri­ving con­vic­tion and per­sonal friend­ship with an attor­ney from the firm rep­re­sent­ing her in this case. 

Judge Gonzalez Rogers spec­i­fied that nei­ther the drunken dri­ving charges nor her per­sonal friend­ship with an attor­ney were per­ti­nent to the present case, stat­ing, Kumar’s attor­ney friend is one of the sev­eral attor­neys from mul­ti­ple law firms that is rep­re­sent­ing her in the case.”

In other argu­ments, Salov ques­tioned con­sumer mem­ory regard­ing proof of pur­chase, price paid for the olive oil, and recall if they believed the Imported from Italy” to mean that olive oil was made only from Italian olives. The judge addressed this issue by stat­ing that Class mem­bers could sub­mit proof of pur­chase on a class action Claim Form Affidavit. 

California con­sumers fur­ther claim that with the Imported from Italy” state­ment on their label, Salov is vio­lat­ing the busi­ness prac­tice of the 1930 Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. § 1304(a).


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