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Class Claims Filed over Deceptively-Branded Coffee

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On May 8, 2018, putative class claims were filed against popular coffee brand New England Coffee Co. (“New England”) and its parent company Reily Foods Co., alleging that the defendants deceptively marketed New England’s Hazelnut Crème coffee.

Named plaintiff, Kathy Dumont, filed the suit in Massachusetts federal court. In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that the defendants purposefully mislead consumers into believing that the product contains enough of its characterizing ingredient to give it the promised hazelnut flavor. However, in reality, New England’s Hazelnut Crème coffee contains no hazelnuts and is actually artificially flavored. To bolster her argument Plaintiff points to the front of Hazelnut Crème coffee packages that describe the product as a “medium blend with a rich nutty flavor.” Plaintiff argues that the defendants purposefully left any indication that the product is artificially flavored off the front of the package and instead placed a discrete notice of the artificial flavoring on the back left side of the package, well out of the average consumer’s sight line. 

The suit alleges that New England Coffee Co and Reily Foods Co. are in violation of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 93A §2. In addition, the suit claims the companies have distributed untrue and misleading advertising in violation of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 266 § 91 and that the company was unjustly enriched. Plaintiff is seeking actual or statutory damages; in the complaint she stipulated that the suit would seek whichever results in greater recovery. The suit seeks restitution and disgorgement of the defendants’ revenues or profits from the sale of the coffee in question. 

The case is: Kathy Dumont v. Reily Foods Co. et al., Case No.: 1:18-cv-10907, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

 


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