Plaintiff Thought Crunchberries Were Real Berries
On May 21, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who said she had purchased "Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries" because she believed "crunchberries" were real fruit. The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she had only recently learned to her dismay that said "berries" were in fact simply brightly-colored cereal balls, and that although the product did contain some strawberry fruit concentrate, it was not otherwise redeemed by fruit. She sued, on behalf of herself and all similarly situated consumers who also apparently believed that there are fields somewhere in our land thronged by crunchberry bushes.
Cap'n According to the complaint, Sugawara and other consumers were misled not only by the use of the word "berries" in the name, but also by the front of the box, which features the product's namesake, Cap'n Crunch, aggressively "thrusting a spoonful of 'Crunchberries' at the prospective buyer." Plaintiff claimed that this message was reinforced by other marketing representing the product as a "combination of Crunch biscuits and colorful red, purple, teal and green berries." Yet in actuality, the product contained "no berries of any kind." Plaintiff brought claims for fraud, breach of warranty, and our notorious and ever-popular California Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
Judge Morrison England Jr. dismissed the case, stating:
[W]hile the challenged packaging contains the word "berries" it does so only in conjunction with the descriptive term "crunch." This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a "crunchberry." Furthermore, the "Crunchberries" depicted on the [box] are round, crunchy, brightly-colored cereal balls, and the [box] clearly states both that the Product contains "sweetened corn & oat cereal" and that the cereal is "enlarged to show texture." Thus, a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist. . . . So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world.
The judge noted a precedent in which the plaintiff's lawyers were unsuccessful in a complaint that Froot Loops did not contain real fruit.