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.