Reid v. Johnson & Johnson

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Standing
  • Date Filed: 03-13-2015
  • Case #: 12-56726
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Callahan for the Court; Circuit Judges Kozinski and Trott
  • Full Text Opinion

Claims of “no trans fat” authorized by the FDA may mean that the product contains an insignificant amount of trans fat.

Robert Reid and other consumers were buyers of Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals’ (collectively “Plaintiffs”) butter substitute, Benecol. Benecol is manufactured with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, containing artificial trans fat and plant stanol esters, which are known to reduce low-density lipoprotein (“LDL”), “or ‘bad’ cholesterol.” Benecol was promoted as having “‘No Trans Fat.’” Reid claimed the trans fats in Benecol counteract any health effect of the plant stanol esters, and thus brought a false advertising claim against the Plaintiffs. The district court dismissed Reid’s claims, holding that Reid did not have standing to contest the statements in question, and that his claims were preempted. The Ninth Circuit held that claims of “no trans fat” authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) may mean that the product contains an insignificant amount of trans fat. The panel further found that “Reid has standing, that Reid’s claims for relief are not preempted, and that Reid’s action is not barred by the primary jurisdiction doctrine.” The panel remanded to find facts of whether 0.5 grams is in fact significant to require labeling of such and to determine whether the labeling was in fact misleading. AFFIRMED in Part, REVERSED in Part, and REMANDED.

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