Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Class Certified in Infant Formula Advertising Case

This posting was written by William Zale, Editor of CCH Advertising Law Guide.

A class was certified by the federal district court in Ft. Lauderdale in an action alleging that Mead Johnson’s advertising and labeling misrepresented its Enfamil LIPIL infant formula as the only baby formula containing the breast milk nutrients DHA and ARA in violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and False and Misleading Advertising Law.

Lower-priced store brand and private label formulas allegedly contained the same nutrients in equal or greater amounts.

The case involved issues common to the proposed class, including whether the representations about the product were true, whether an objective consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances would be deceived, what measure of loss was proper, and whether the class members were entitled to injunctive relief, the court found.


Claims asserted by the named plaintiff were typical because she purchased Enfamil LIPIL, she testified she was deceived by Mead Johnson’s representations, and she was exposed to the same messages as class members even if they had viewed different labels.

The named plaintiff had purchased Enfamil LIPIL within the relevant four-year statute of limitations and thus could not be held an inadequate class representative on the theory that her claims were time-barred, the court determined.

Predominance of Common Issues

Common issues predominated, namely whether Enfamil LIPIL contained nutrients that other brands of infant formula did not and whether Mead Johnson’s representations would deceive a reasonable consumer. Because the controversy involved many questions of law and fact, a class action would be superior to other available methods for fair and efficient adjudication, the court concluded.

The decision is Nelson v. Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., November 1, 2010. Text of the decision will appear at CCH Advertising Law Guide ¶64,048.

Further information about CCH Advertising Law Guide appears here.

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