One Size Doesn't Fit All Product Labeling Class Actions

In an article for Law360, Jon Tomlin discusses the implications of applying “one-size-fits-all” damages methods to recent product labeling class actions

Plaintiffs in recent consumer class actions have challenged product labels as misleading in terms of efficacy (such as providing “energy”), ingredients (such as “all natural” or “no added sugar”), origination (such as olive oil associated with Italy) and production method (such as “handcrafted”). In other class actions, plaintiffs have alleged that product packaging is deceptive because it contains nonfunctional empty space (“slack-fill”).

From an economic perspective, these are highly disparate claims involving very different products. The challenged labels and packaging typically have different impacts on consumer demand and the products involved differ along fundamental economic dimensions, including costs and competitive conditions. Put simply, these cases are not the same.

Regrettably, in many recent product labeling class actions, experts have offered simple damages methods which mimic those they have used in other cases and which ignore fundamental economic differences in claims and products. As explained below, these methods are often unreliable. Courts have rejected these overly simplified damages models in many (but not all) recent cases.

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