Class action in the works as consumer successfully sues Inventure Foods over TGIF Mozzarella Snack Sticks

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Cheese Savory snacks

The ruling paves the way for a nationwide class action against Inventure Foods, after the company was accused of falsely marketing the savory snack as containing mozzarella.

A US district judge has ruled in favor of an Illinois resident, who sued restaurant chain TGI Friday’s (TGIF) and savory snack maker Inventure Foods for marketing and distributing a mozzarella stick snack that doesn’t contain any mozzarella.

The plaintiff had bought a six-pack of the product via a popular online retailer who hadn’t published an ingredients list online. But because the packaging featured the word ‘mozzarella’ so prominently, the consumer thought the snack did contain the cheese - only to find the only type of cheese in TGIF Mozzarella Stick Snacks was cheddar.

In a case that argued consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices, the plaintiff sought ‘restitution and other equitable, injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief for the price premium she and others paid for the product based on reasonable reliance that they contained mozzarella cheese’. On top of that, the Illinois resident said they wanted to represent a nationwide class consisting of “[a]ll persons in the United States who purchased TGI Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks Snacks”.

A motion to dismiss the case lodged by Inventure was itself dismissed last week by the judge, who agreed that “a product labelled ‘Mozzarella Stick Snacks’ with an image of mozzarella sticks would bear some resemblance to mozzarella sticks, which presumably contain some mozzarella cheese” – especially since the TGIF logo “has a strong correlation to the appetizer mozzarella sticks.”

The judge also labelled Inventure’s motion to block the case from turning into a nationwide class action as ‘premature’, effectively allowing it to proceed under this form in the future.

The plaintiff's lead lawyer, Thomas Zimmerman Jr of Zimmerman Law Offices, has indicated that such a case would go ahead. He told Reuters: “The court agreed with us that the case may proceed as a nationwide class action, and we intend to pursue the nationwide class against Inventure.”

Only the snack maker can be sued going forward, however, since the judge also struck out TGIF from the defendants’ list after ruling that the restaurant chain only licensed its logo for use on the snack's packaging and had no other control over the branding.

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