Tootsie Roll Obtains Dismissal of a Class Action

Donahue Fitzgerald assisted Tootsie Roll in obtaining a decision from a California Court of Appeal affirming the dismissal of a class action lawsuit.

In 2021, a complaint was filed against Tootsie Roll, alleging violations of federal and state law arising from the use of partially hydrogenated oils (also known as “trans fats”) in Tootsie Roll’s products between 2010 and 2016. The plaintiff sought restitution and damages in the amount of $140 million, alleging the use of trans fats was unlawful under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and breached the implied warranty of merchantability.

The trial court sustained Tootsie Roll’s demurrer to plaintiff’s complaint, concluding (among other things) that plaintiff failed to allege cognizable injury and plaintiff’s claims were preempted by federal law (specifically a congressional enactment providing the use of trans fats was not to be deemed violative of food additive standards until after June 18, 2018).

Plaintiff appealed.  In a lengthy 28-page published decision issued on November 30, 2022, the appellate court held (1) plaintiff failed to state a claim under the UCL, largely on grounds of federal preemption,  and (2) plaintiff’s claim for breach of warranty was similarly preempted.  Accordingly, the judgment for Tootsie Roll was affirmed.

Tootsie Roll was represented by litigation partner, David Jolley.

Read the full California appellate court decision here.