Motion Supports False Advertising Case Against Filippo Berio Olive Oil

The plaintiff stated that she understood the term “Imported from Italy” on the Filippo Berio olive oil label to mean the oil was made from olives "grown, crushed, bottled, and shipped from Italy."

May. 18, 2016
By Sukhsatej Batra

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Two years after a false adver­tis­ing case was filed against Salov North America Corp. and Italfoods, Inc., the dis­trib­u­tors of Filippo Berio Olive Oil, the case is nowhere near­ing clo­sure as the lat­est motion to sup­port the class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion claim that the com­pany prac­ticed false adver­tis­ing was filed last week.

The motion by Rohini Kumar, the plain­tiff, was in response to Salov’s motion to dis­miss the class action law­suit filed in March 2016, which included a state­ment that the plain­tiff could not prove that she had even pur­chased a bot­tle of their olive oil.

At the root of the case is the state­ment Imported from Italy” on the label of Filippo Berio olive oil. The com­pany said there was no evi­dence that con­sumers of the olive oil or the plain­tiff her­self had mis­in­ter­preted imported from Italy” to mean that the Filippo Berio olive oil was only made from Italian olives.

The word imported” in com­mon usage means shipped out of,” accord­ing to the expla­na­tion pro­vided by Salov, which, they point out was Kumar’s own inter­pre­ta­tion of the word as well. They counter that this fact in itself defeats the claim filed by her against their com­pany.

In her response, Kumar stated that she under­stood the term imported from Italy” on the Filippo Berio Olive Oil label to mean that the olive oil was made from olives grown, crushed, bot­tled, and shipped from Italy.

In a state­ment sup­port­ing her claim for class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Kumar fur­ther went on to say, while Salov argues that the dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tion of imported from’ sup­ports it, there will still need to be a class-wide deci­sion of whether the phrase is likely to mis­lead rea­son­able con­sumers.”

In an attempt to have the case dis­missed, Salov North America also raised ques­tions about the lead plaintiff’s acquain­tance with a mem­ber of her coun­sel, her char­ac­ter and even whether she pur­chased a bot­tle of the olive oil to begin with.

In the motion, Kumar main­tained her acquain­tance with the coun­sel and her char­ac­ter did not influ­ence or affect the case.

The 29-page law­suit was filed on May 23, 2014 against Salov North America Corp and Italfoods inc. for vio­la­tions of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, false adver­tis­ing, unfair trade prac­tices, breach of con­tract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair deal­ing, and fraud, deceit and/or mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

In an ear­lier hear­ing, Kumar dropped the charges of false adver­tis­ing claims for includ­ing extra vir­gin” on the label to focus the class action on the imported from Italy” claim.

Filippo Berio, imported by Salov North America Corp., based in New Jersey, is the third-largest brand of olive oil sold in the United States, with sales of $137.4 mil­lion in 2015.

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