March 26, 2011

Campbell Soup Suit Simmers

A federal judge on Wednesday allowed a lawsuit to continue against Campbell Soup Company, after four New Jersey housewives charged the world's largest soup maker for labeling misleading sodium content on their low-sodium tomato soups.

The class action lawsuit charges the soup company with labeling their tomato soups as low-sodium when they actually contain almost as much sodium as their regular soup. The housewives claim they were misled into paying more for the lower-sodium soups even though it did not contain less sodium than the cheaper stuff, which they said were identical.

US District Judge Jerome Simandle denied a motion to dismiss the case, stating the women had a valid claim under the New Jersey consumer fraud act because reasonable consumers could have found the labels on Campbell's Soups misleading.

"Plaintiffs allege that they were misled into thinking that the more expensive less-sodium soups contained significantly less sodium that the cheaper regular tomato soup because of the labels on each less-sodium soup bought"¦ and were therefore willing to pay more for the less-sodium soup," Simandle said in his ruling. "It is a plausible inference from the facts alleged that it was reasonable for Plaintiffs to expect that the soups they were receiving had 25%-30% less sodium than the regular tomato soup, when the soups in fact had approximately the same amount of sodium."

The judge clarified that the claim was a comparison to a collection of the company's regular soups, and not the tomato soup only.

"Consumers should not have to read the back of the soup can to be sure the information on the front is truthful," a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Lester Levy of Wolf Popper LLP, told Reuters in a statement.

Campbell, based out of Camden, NJ, said the allegations are without merit and it will fight the case to the end.

"Campbell has complete confidence in the accuracy of our labels and our marketing communications and that they meet regulatory and other legal requirements," the company said in a statement.

The case is being prosecuted by Wolf Popper LLP, a New York City law firm and Cohn, Lifland, Pearlman, Herrmann & Knopf LLC, a Saddlebrook, New Jersey law firm.


On the Net: