Bertolli Olive Oil Must Face Mislabeling Suit

Bertolli and Carapelli brand olive oils cannot escape a class action claiming the products deceive consumers by labeling the oils as “extra virgin.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg denied a motion by Deoleo USA Inc. to dismiss the class action Tuesday.

Deoleo, previously known as Med Foods Inc., imports and distributes Bertolli and Carapelli brands and was accused if misleading labeling.

The lawsuit contends the products do not live up to the “extra virgin” designation because they allegedly do not meet quality standards and degrade too quickly.  The suit also contends that while the olive oils are marketed as “imported from Italy,” the olives come from a number of countries.

Deoleo argues the lead plaintiff, Scott Koller, was not mislead and that the bottles say on the label that olives may come from several different countries.

The class action seeks to certify a class of people who purchased the extra virgin olive oil products between May 2010 and the present.

Seeborg refused to dismiss the lawsuit but said he will reconsider some Deoleo claims at the class certification stage of the case.

In addition, Koller seeks punitive damages for allegedly intentional misleading labeling.  Seeborg said that “although the allegations may be thin in showing strong malice or reprehensibility, there is no basis simply to dismiss the claim for punitive damages at this stage.”

Case:  Koller v. Med Foods Inc., No. 14-2400RS



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