Court Finds That the Plaintiff Lacks Standing in Glyphosate-Related Consumer Class Action Matter
Lawsuits related to glyphosate, including consumer class action claims against food and beverage manufacturers, continue to be filed. In the consumer class action cases, the plaintiffs typically assert that the type of product (e.g., juice, cereals, etc.) had been tested by a laboratory and that trace levels of the pesticide had been detected. In those cases, the plaintiffs are not claiming that they were actually injured by consuming the product. Instead, they are essentially complaining that the product labels are misleading because they do not disclose that trace levels of glyphosate can be detected in the cereals. Sometimes the plaintiffs allege that consuming trace levels of glyphosate “may be harmful.” As we summarized in a DRI article, a number of the claims have been dismissed at the pleadings stage on various grounds.
A federal district court decision from Florida continues the trend of dismissing such claims. There, the court determined that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert a claim that a breakfast cereal manufacturer failed to disclose that the cereal contained trace levels of glyphosate. Specifically, in Doss v. General Mills, Inc., 18-CV 61924 (S.D.Fl.), the plaintiff filed a putative class action complaining that the defendant manufacturer did not inform consumers that the cereal at issue contained trace levels of glyphosate and had the plaintiff been aware of that fact, she would not have purchased the product. See order granting motion to dismiss, at p. 1. The plaintiff asserted various state law causes of action. The defendant moved to dismiss on various grounds.
The court dismissed the claims on the grounds of lack of standing. The court pointed to the fact that the plaintiff did not “allege her health has suffered as a result of eating” the cereal. Moreover, the plaintiff did not even allege that the actual box of cereal purchased was tested and that it was positive for glyphosate, “never mind harmful levels of it.” Indeed, the plaintiff “hedge[d] her bets, saying that the [cereal] she herself purchased either ‘contained or could contain glyphosate.’” Furthermore, the court focused on the facts that the plaintiff did not allege that she actually consumed the product and that there was no allegation that the plaintiff did not receive a product that the manufacturer affirmatively offered, i.e., that it was “gluten free”, ‘packed with nutrients, made of oats, ”proven to help lower cholesterol,” etc.
Finally, the court went on to scrutinize the plaintiff’s allegation that trace levels of glyphosate in cereal “may be harmful” as nothing more than speculation, stating, “Mere conjecture that something has the potential to be harmful is not enough … Any theoretical risks were “far too speculative to manufacture standing in this case” citing Koronthaly v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., 374 Fed. App’x 257, 259 (3d Cir. 2010).
As a consequence, the court dismissed the complaint.