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California Seafood-Lovers File Class Claims over Mislabeled Products

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On June 27, 2017 a proposed class of dissatisfied California consumers filed suit against Miami-based food vendor Transnational Food Inc. and supplier Conservas Cerqueira SA, alleging that the defendants purposefully misled consumers as to the content of their Pampa Octopus seafood product. The product was advertised as octopus but was in reality comprised of squid.

In the complaint, filed in California federal court, named plaintiff Vivian Lejbman claimed that consumers purchased the product based on the belief that what they were buying was Pampa octopus. Pampa octopus is a highly sought after delicacy due to shrinking populations in the wild, with the cost per tin ranging from $7.99 to $8.99. In contrast to the rising cost and demand of octopus, squid populations have been growing in recent years causing prices to go down to around $4.91 per tin.

Plaintiffs in the suit argue that the defendants swapped out octopus for similar-tasting, cheaper squid, assuming that consumers would rely on the label and not question the authenticity of the product. Had consumers been aware that the label was not an accurate description of the product’s contents, Plaintiffs argue that they would never have paid the higher price for an inferior product. Plaintiffs are seeking to recover actual, statutory and punitive damages, as well as restitution, disgorgement and injunctive relief to stop the defendants from continuing to sell the misleading product. 

The case is: Vivian Lejbman v. Transnational Foods Inc. and Conservas Cerqueira SA, Case Number 3:17-cv-01317 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

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