By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Illinois has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Mondelez International Inc of deceiving consumers into believing its Trident “Original Flavor” gum contained real mint.
U.S. District Judge Iain Johnston said it was “fanciful” to believe reasonable consumers would expect the gum to contain mint or peppermint because its packaging featured an “unnaturally blue” leaf with condensation bubbles.
He said the proposed class action by Sycamore, Illinois resident Kristen Lesorgen was “just like” a case against Walmart Inc, where another Illinois judge in February dismissed claims over that retailer’s Great Value Fudge Mint Cookies.
“Mondelez’s labeling was not deceptive, misleading, or false as a matter of law,” Johnston wrote.
“At most, Trident ‘Original Flavor’ packaging hints that its flavor is mint, not that its ingredients include mint or peppermint,” he added. “The packaging doesn’t even use the word ‘mint.’ Further, mint leaves in a garden are green.”
The lawsuit covered consumers in Illinois and eight other U.S. states, and accused Chicago-based Mondelez of violating various consumer protection laws.
Johnston dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again. The judge works in Rockford, Illinois.
Lawyers for Lesorgen did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mondelez and its lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests.
The case is Lesorgen v Mondelez International LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 22-50375.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell)