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Court dismisses class action against CVS for vitamin C 'Made in USA' claims

By Stephen Daniells+

17-Feb-2017
Last updated on 17-Feb-2017 at 15:22 GMT2017-02-17T15:22:11Z

© iStock
© iStock

A federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois has dismissed a putative class action against CVS Health Corp. and CVS Pharmacy, Inc. for “Made in USA” claims made on a vitamin C supplement.

According to court documents, plaintiff David deMedicis alleged that the vitamin C used in the supplements was sourced from foreign countries, that the “Made is USA” claim was “misleading and inaccurate”, and that it had caused him to spend more for the products than they were worth. The complaint also alleged that future harm would occur because, having been misled by this supplement label, he is likely to be misled again.

However, US District Judge John Darrah dismissed the complaint without prejudice, stating: “Plaintiff does not allege that the Supplements were more expensive because they were marked “Made in U.S.A.” Plaintiff has not alleged that he suffered actual damages under the ICFA [Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act].

“Plaintiff is now aware that Defendants allegedly deceptively label products as “Made in U.S.A.” and, as such, is not likely to be harmed in the future.”

“Made in USA” – the new “natural”?

Speaking at the American Conference Institute’s 4th Annual Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum hosted in collaboration with the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Ivan Wasserman, partner at Amin Talati Upadhye, LLP, noted that “Made in USA” claims could be among the next hot button issues for class actions against dietary supplement products, along with “Pharmaceutical Grade” and “Clinically Proven”.

Commenting on the CVS decision, Wasserman told us: “While certainly a victory for CVS, I caution companies not to get too much comfort in the dismissal of this case. 

“The crux of the decision appears to be based on the plaintiff’s failure to assert certain necessary elements needed for his case to proceed under the Illinois statutes, rather than the legality of the “Made in USA” claim itself. If anything, the simple filing of this case, especially in Illinois, is more evidence that “Made In USA” is becoming a new ‘natural’ with respect to consumer class actions based on product label claims all over the country.”

CVS welcomed the judge’s decision. “We believe the complaint has no merit and we are pleased with the court’s decision,” said a statement from the company emailed to NutraIngredients-USA. 

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