On June 14, 2021, Judge George Wu of the Central District of California granted Unilever’s motion to dismiss a country-of-origin suit against Unilever with prejudice.
In Culver v. Unilever United States, the plaintiff alleged that the labeling of certain varieties of Unilever’s Maille mustard products misled consumers into thinking that the varieties were made in France when the varieties were in fact made in Canada. The labels of the varieties at issue included two French statements (“Depuis 1747—Since 1747” and “Que Maille”) and the words “Paris 1747” and “Maille.” The product also stated “PRODUCT OF CANADA” on the rear label.
The court held that plaintiff’s theory was implausible because the statements that plaintiff challenged would not lead a reasonable consumer to believe that the varieties of mustard were made in France. To the extent there was any ambiguity about the country of origin, the court said that a reasonable consumer would be expected to examine the whole product label and thus would see the “PRODUCT OF CANADA” statement on the rear label. The court also rejected plaintiff’s allegations that his own survey evidence supported his theory, because the survey did not show respondents the entire product label, omitting the relevant “PRODUCT OF CANADA” statement.
The Morrison & Foerster Class Actions + Mass Torts team representing Unilever was led by partner Claudia Vetesi, with associates Spencer McManus and Megan Whipp.