Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. is taking what it calls a common sense approach to another consumer lawsuit over the nutritional content of fruit and maple fillings in several products.
A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on April 6 by Irina Agajanyan with a request for class-action status.
The court has scheduled an Aug. 27 hearing on Krispy Kreme’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
At the heart of Agajanyan’s complaint – as with two others against Krispy Kreme that have been voluntarily dismissed – is the plaintiff’s claims that the company knowingly sells fruit- and maple-flavored doughnuts that do not include “real ingredients.”
Attorneys representing Krispy Kreme said Agajanyan has failed to prove how “doughnuts comprised of fried cake and yeast mixes coated with icing would mislead a reasonable consumer into believing they contained ingredients that help protect against heart disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.”
What moves the lawsuits from being considered as potentially frivolous is that California law has a low bar for proving violations of business and professions code, as well as false advertising and breach of contract.
The company’s defense relies in part on a federal judge’s dismissal in February of a similar ingredients complaint against Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.
In that case, a federal judge determined that consumer Hrach Babaian failed to prove he suffered economic harm.
Babaian based part of his claims that he was charged a price by Dunkin’ that he associated with real blueberry and maple ingredients in its doughnuts rather than artificial flavors.
Krispy Kreme typically sells its variety doughnuts for $1.09 apiece and $8.99 for a dozen.
Krispy Kreme’s attorneys say federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act regulations prohibit states from requiring restaurants to impose – at the point of sale – additional labeling requirements beyond federal requirements that include the number of calories an item has and a statement of how the item fits within a diet of 2,000 calories a day.
Agajanyan and Babaian are represented by the same attorney, Hovanes Margarian.
According to the attorneys representing Krispy Kreme, “Plaintiff fails to plead sufficient plausible facts and economic injury … fails to allege how a reasonable consumer would be misled by the doughnuts and other available product information at the point of purchase, or how she was economically injured in any way.”
Agajanyan’s attorneys acknowledged the similarities in her case and the November 2016 complaint filed by Jason Saidian, including saying that “the Saidian case is presumed to have settled on an individual basis” because of the voluntary dismissal.
However, according to the Saidian dismissal, both parties paid for their own legal costs, which is typically a sign that no settlement agreement had been reached in a case.
Saidian requested at least $5 million in damages, as well as the disgorging of profits made from the products.
Agajanyan is requesting restitution of $1,000 for each potential class-action plaintiff, any actual damages and a court order that would prevent Krispy Kreme from selling blueberry and maple doughnuts and from using the words blueberry and maple in the names of doughnuts.
BY Richard Craver Winston-Salem Journal
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