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False Advertising: New York Law

The Ultimate Guide to False-Advertising Law in New York: 22 FAQs

1) What are the elements of false advertising under New York law?

For a private plaintiff to "state a claim" under General Business Law § 350, the following elements must be alleged in sufficient detail: 

  1. consumer-oriented conduct; 
  2. materially misleading;
  3. an injury caused by act or practice.”[1]

The legal elements of false advertising under GBL § 350 claims are identical to those of deceptive business practices under GBL § 349.[2] However, GBL § 350 applies only to “false advertising.”[3]

GBL § 350, often used in connection with GBL § 349, prohibits “false advertising,” including false product labels.[4]

2) Which particular statutes govern false advertising under New York law?

The two false-advertising statutes under New York Law:

General Business Law § 350: False advertising unlawful

"False advertising in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or the furnishing of any service in this state is hereby declared unlawful."

General Business Law § 350-a: False advertising

“1. The term “false advertising” means advertising, including labeling, of a commodity or of the kind, character, terms, or conditions of any employment opportunity if such advertising is misleading in a material respect. In determining whether any advertising is misleading, there shall be taken into account (among other things) not only representations made by a statement, word, design, device, sound, or any combination thereof but also the extent to which the advertising fails to reveal facts material in the light of such representations concerning the commodity or employment to which the advertising relates under the conditions prescribed in said advertisement, or under such conditions as are customary or usual...”

3) What other statute is used in conjunction with GBL § 350?

GBL § 349 (Deceptive acts and practices), which prohibits “[d]eceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce.” While deception itself is not an element of the prima facie case, it goes to the “consumer protective purpose” of the statute, which safeguards consumers' “right to an honest marketplace where trust prevails between buyer and seller.”[5] It is also closely related to the “materially misleading” standard, which “require[es] a showing that a reasonable consumer would have been misled” by the deceptive conduct.[6]

4) Who can sue under New York’s false-advertising statute GBL § 350?

Both private plaintiffs and the Attorney General can bring a false-advertising lawsuit.[7]

5) Can I recover monetary damages for a falsely-advertised product?

Yes. Prevailing private plaintiffs (consumers or competitors) are entitled to damages or injunctive relief in successful cases.[8] The court, at its discretion, may also award reasonable attorneys' fees[9] with treble damages (three times actual or compensatory damages).[10] Treble damages require a willfulness to violate GBL § 350 and are limited to ten thousand dollars.[11]

Were you deceived by false advertising? Free legal evaluation.

6) How broad is New York’s false-advertising statute GBL § 350?

The scope of GBL § 350 is broad. The New York Court of Appeals in Karlin v. IVF America, Inc. stated that GBL § 350, on its face, “applies to virtually all economic activity.”[12] However, just like GBL § 349, GBL § 350 is restricted to transactions that occurred in New York state.[13]

7) Who determines whether the advertising is “sufficiently consumer-oriented”?

Courts will conduct a factual analysis to determine whether conduct is sufficiently consumer-oriented under GBL § 350.[14]

8) How is the misleadingness of an advertisement determined?

The test for misleadingness is objective: whether the advertisement will likely mislead a reasonable person acting reasonably under the circumstances.[15] However, the reasonableness standard may change depending on the facts. For example, in two similar cases involving law school graduates who sued their law schools for misrepresenting students' post-graduate career prospects, the courts analyzed the allegedly misleading statements according to how a “reasonably well-educated individual” would interpret those statistics.[16]

9) Can false advertising appear on a product’s label?

Yes, false advertising under GBL § 350 includes mislabeling. Galaxy Export, Inc. v. Bedford Textile Products, Inc. 443 N.Y.S.2d 439 (2 Dept. 1981). The definition of mislabel is “to label (something) incorrectly or falsely,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Mislabeling and Misbranding lawyer Jesse Langel

10) Can the New York Attorney General pursue damages for false advertising?

Yes. The Attorney General may elect to sue and, if successful, may cause a court to impose civil penalties of up to five thousand dollars per violation under GBL § 350-d.[17] New York Supreme Courts (trial courts in New York) have broad discretion to determine the amount of the civil penalties considering factors such as the defendant's profitability, ability to pay, and the extent of the violations.[18] But defendants enjoy a “safe harbor” defense if they comply with “rules, regulations, or statutes administered by the FTC or New York State agencies.[19] Some courts have ruled that compliance with other federal agencies constitutes a complete defense under GBL § 350-d.[20]

Worth noting is that courts have held that federal agency approval of product labels did not constitute compliance with GBL § 349c[21] or GBL § 350-d.[22] Nor did the FDA’s non-binding guidance provide a defense to a class action alleging mislabeling as “natural.”[23]

11) Must I be specific in my false-advertising lawsuit?

Yes. Although New York law is liberal in its pleading requirements under CPLR § 3013,[24] conclusory statements should not survive against a good motion to dismiss. Good practice requires pleading the “what, where, when, why, and how” of the bad advertising claim.

12) Top 16 factual issues to consider before bringing a false-advertising lawsuit.

  1. Which advertising claim(s) did you find false, misleading, or deceptive?
  2. Why were the claim(s) false, misleading, or deceptive?
  3. Were the claim(s) measurable and ascertainable (i.e., “20% more room”)?
  4. Were the advertising claim(s) manifested as statements, excerpts, images, or video?
  5. Was there a disclaimer? If so, was it accurate and prominently displayed?
  6. Did a human being affirm the claim(s) verbally or nonverbally?
  7. Have you spoken to the seller or manufacturer since the purchase seeking clarification?
  8. Did the seller make any post-sale statements or promises relevant to the advertising claim(s)?
  9. Where was the product viewed or purchased?
  10. When and how was the product purchased?
  11. Did you rely on the advertising claim(s) when purchasing?
  12. Did the advertising claims influence your decision to buy the product? How?
  13. Does the business’s website or social media make or support the same problematic claim(s)?
  14. Were the claim(s) on a label, and if so, have you made a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) to the USD? A (meat and poultry) or FDA (other food products), if applicable?
  15. What details and documentation support any damages claim based on a purchase price, invoices, receipts, or evidence of personal injury or emotional injury?
  16. If you intend to sue for breach of express warranty in New York, have you sent a pre-suit letter as required under UCC § 2-607(3)(a)? [25]

13) Does a false-advertising lawsuit require “reliance” on the advertising?

No. Similar to GBL § 349, Section 350 does not require “justifiable reliance” according to the New York Court of Appeals in Koch v. Acker, Merrall & Condit Co.[26] The Koch court made class actions more accessible. Before Koch, courts declined class certification because class members could not prove reliance across the class.[27]

Still, plaintiffs must prove an injury causally related to a misrepresentation. In that sense, reliance and causation are “close cousins.” But merely “seeing the misleading statements before coming into possession of the products” was sufficient to establish that causal connection.[28]

Generally, the person “injured” is the one who should sue. Suing “derivatively” (on behalf of aggrieved consumers) appears to be disallowed. For example, in Center for Rheumatology, LLP v. Shapiro, a counterclaiming defendant in a business dispute lacked standing to pursue an unrelated consumer claim on behalf of the partnership’s patients. The court held that Defendant “failed to allege that he was deceived by this practice in any manner, and the defendant may not maintain a derivative action on behalf of [the Partnership's] patients.”[29]

14) May advocacy organizations sue on behalf of consumers?

The issue is whether an organization may sue “derivatively”—on behalf of consumers—with no injury to the organization itself.

Generally, under GBL § 349, plaintiffs may not assert “derivative” claims, or those claims alleging indirect injuries resulting from deception experienced by third parties.”[30] Therefore, to state a claim under GBL § 350, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant directed its unlawful conduct at the plaintiff.[31] But a case may be made if a plaintiff can show that, despite the acts being directed to a third party, the defendant intended harm to be caused to the plaintiff.[32]

This issue was front, and center in Voters for Animal Rights v D'Artagnan, Inc. wherein the court cited Blue Cross,[33] which held, “the Legislature did not intend to permit recovery for those suffering from “derivative” or “indirect” injuries – to wit, those occurring “solely as a result of injuries sustained by another party.”[34]

The court in Voters for Animal Rights cited the defendant’s brief:

“If an [n] advocacy organization ... were found to be ‘injured’ any time it encountered allegedly false statements made by businesses touting the virtues of their products or services – ... whether they be foie gras or fake turkey, trigger locks or guns, vaccines or even abortions – then the advocacy group could drag that business into costly litigation merely because it refuses to believe what the sellers say about their products or services.”). Plaintiff's argument, if adopted, would recognize a cognizable injury to any organization that opts to spend its resources persuading consumers to boycott a product or service."[35]

Voters for Animals Rights is essential in organizational, social-justice cases because the plaintiff expended significant resources counteracting the defendant’s advertising of foie gras (livers of force-fed ducks or geese). The organizational muscle of Voters for Animals Rights included more than 60,000 supporters in New York State. It spent “hundreds of hours” disseminating information and lobbying against selling foie gras products in New York. But that was not enough to overcome a general bar for pursuing injuries on behalf of third parties.

15) Do Plaintiffs alleging false advertising have a “heightened pleading standard”?

No. Although the New York Court of Appeals has not yet addressed the issue, the Second Department has held that the pleading-with-particularity requirement of CPLR 3016(b) generally required for claims sounding in fraud does not apply to GBL §§ 349 and 350 causes of action.[36]

16) Must I suffer an “actual injury” to sue for false advertising?

Yes, a plaintiff must allege an actual injury to state a cognizable claim.[37] The alleged injury must be actual and cannot be speculative or based on the “perceived … risk of future injury that may never occur.”[38] A fear of future garnishment based on an unlawfully procured judgment did not allege a recognizable injury—but a lowered credit score based on false reporting stated an injury.[39] The injury must be actual, identifiable, and confirmed. But the injury need not be monetary.[40]

For example, the court in Guzman v. Mel S. Harris and Associates, LLC,[41] acknowledged that “[e]motional harm … satisfies the injury requirement for a claim under … GBL § 349” and found the plaintiff's “emotional injuries” were sufficient to withstand a summary judgment motion where he claimed to be “stressed and frustrated … to the extent that he left his job as a truck driver because he feared having an accident, and experienced difficulty sleeping and concentrating.”

17) What evidence should I preserve in a false-advertising case?

Preserve any purchase receipt. Capture all communications had with the retailer or manufacturer. Locate and preserve marketing campaign material and advertisements. Think expansively about other discoverable electronic and hardcopy evidence.

Parties should consider the necessity of experts, including a consumer-perception expert who could create a consumer-perception survey about the impression of the claim on consumers. Consumer surveys can reveal consumer expectations, which can support the case. Both parties are expected to scrutinize the methodology employed in the surveys, and the expert’s qualifications will also be examined.

18) Can an omission constitute a form of deception under GBL § 349?

Yes. Deception need not be an affirmative act but can also be accomplished through omission. For example, in Miller v. Kaminer, the plaintiff sought a refund for a deposit and prepayment of childcare services paid to the defendant, who knew at the time of payment that the business owner was terminally ill.[42] The court found that “[t]he failure to inform claimant at the time his child was placed in child care that his deposit and pre-payment would not be reimbursed because of the imminent dire health circumstances is an omission which constitutes a deceptive act.”[43]

19) What is the statute of limitations (time deadline) for false-advertising claims under GBL §§ 349 and 350?

A three-year statute of limitations under CPLR 214(2) governs GBL §§ 349 and 350 claims brought by private plaintiffs.[44] The same period generally applies to claims by the Attorney General, except when the Attorney General seeks prospective injunctive relief.

The limitations period for a GBL § 349 claim begins at the time of the injury, not when the injured plaintiff learned or reasonably should have learned of the deception.[45] The time of injury depends on specific facts of the deceptive acts alleged.[46]

The date of injury determination also has important procedural implications long before the limitations period runs. The Second Department has recently reiterated that deceptive practice claims under § 349, and thus by relation, § 350, are claims sounding in tort.[47] As a result, causes of action under § 349 and § 350 are subject to the requirements of GML § 50-e.[48] Under § 50-e, plaintiffs asserting claims against a municipality or government agency must serve notice of a claim within 90 days after the claim arose. Claims arise under GBL § 349 and § 350 at the time of injury—triggering both the 90-day service period and statute of limitations.

In addition, a defendant's active concealment of the deception is sufficient to toll the limitations period [49] even though the mere failure to disclose is insufficient.[50] Under limited circumstances, the courts have also held that the “continuing wrongs” doctrine applied to toll the limitations periods to the date of the last wrongful act.[51] However, continuing effects of earlier unlawful acts cannot toll the limitations period under the doctrine.[52]

20) When was General Business Law § 350 enacted?

GBL § 350 was enacted in 1963 to address weak enforcement of false advertising. Neither common law (case law) nor New York Penal law could combat false advertising.[53] New York's Attorney General welcomed help to “cope with the numerous, ever-changing types of false and deceptive business practices which plague consumers in our State.”[54] The result was General Business Law § 350, which was designed to be “a strong deterrent against deceptive business practices,” to “supplement the activities of the Attorney General in the prosecution of consumer fraud complaints,” and to provide consumers with “an honest market place where trust prevails between buyer and seller.”[55]

GBL § 350 borrowed heavily from the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1915 (FTC Act). The phrase “deceptive acts or practices” mirrors the FTC Act to harmonize state and federal law.[56] Although politicians debated whether identical wording would create confusion and conflicting law, Governor Rockefeller honored the potential benefits of conformity between state with federal law.[57] This is why GBL § 350-c[58] recognizes a defense for FTC compliance. Before taking legal action, the Attorney General must send the business a “Notice of proposed action” by certified mail.

21) When and why was GBL § 349 enacted?

General Business Law § 349 was enacted in 1970. At that time, the Attorney General was empowered to enforce it.[59] In 1980, after it became apparent that the Attorney General could provide only minimal enforcement, the New York State Legislature amended the statute to create a private right of action.

That amendment was “intended to afford additional protection for consumers, allowing them to bring suit on their behalf without relying on the Attorney General for enforcement.[60]

22) What are some legal defenses to false advertising?

  • The advertising statement is not materially misleading under the “reasonable consumer” standard.
  • Express disclaimers remove the claim’s misleadingness, like an explicit admission of domestic origin if an impression is made that it’s foreign.[61]
  • The misleading statement was nonactionable puffery, an exaggeration of opinion, such as the “best in town.”
  • The claim is “derivative,” which means that Plaintiff is suing on behalf of an injured party.
  • The statement or conduct at issue constitutes constitutionally protected free speech.[62]
  • A federal law or another New York law preempts the claim. An example is an ingredient challenge on a USDA pre-approved meat or poultry product. But otherwise, courts have generally held that federal laws do not preempt GBL § 350 claims.[63]
  • The statute of limitations, which is three years from the date of injury, has expired.
  • The dispute is subject to binding arbitration.[64]
  • Defendant already complies with FTC regulations or other federal regulations, which invoke the “safe harbor” provisions of GBL § 349(d) or GBL § 350-d.
  • GBL §§ 349 or 350 does not apply to the statements or conduct of municipalities.
  • The primary jurisdiction doctrine, pursuant to which proceedings are stayed pending the outcome of an agency's rulemaking process, applies.[65]

New York Cases: Deceptive Practices & False Advertising

Environmental impact and animal welfare claims were deemed not materially misleading

2022:   The defendant made shoes with wool and marketed them using environmental impact and animal-welfare claims. The plaintiffs attacked the defendant’s carbon-measuring tool because it tested for singular-product impact—not for the overall environmental impact of wool production. The court held that the plaintiffs failed to show misleadingness conveyed in the defendant’s carbon footprint measuring methodology. The plaintiffs could not prove the defendant’s methodology or related disclosures were false or misleading. Reasonable consumers would “not expect a carbon footprint calculation to include non-atmospheric inputs, such as land occupation and eutrophication.” The plaintiffs failed to show that a significant number of consumers expected a different methodology. The defendant’s “reliance” on a third-party standard “to measure carbon dioxide equivalent emissions was not deceptive.” Other ad claims, such as “Our Sheep Live The Good Life” and “happy” sheep depicted in pastoral settings, were non-actionable puffery. Puffery is generalized or exaggerated opinions. Dwyer v. Allbirds, Inc., 598 F. Supp. 3d 137 (S.D.N.Y. 2022).

Specific, actionable misrepresentations not asserted against Target's "Toddler Next Stage" drink

2022:   The plaintiff alleged that Target mislabeled its Toddler formula a) to appear more nutritious than it is, b) is necessary for development, c) is as nutritious to toddlers as Target's infant formula is to infants, d) deceptively conceals 2 grams of added sugar, and e) is less nutritious than cow’s milk. But the “plaintiff failed to identify a material misstatement” in any of these categories. The plaintiff “seemed to take issue with the Transition Formula industry as a whole—as evidenced by academic articles to which Plaintiff cites, none of which is specific to Defendant or the product.” Plaintiff lacked authority for the notion that relevant experts must recommend a food product to be merchantable.

More case holdings in Gordon v. Target Corp.:

  • Each allegedly misleading statement is viewed in a broad context. The “entire mosaic” is viewed rather than each tile separately. (quoting Belfiore v. Proctor & Gamble Co., 311 F.R.D. 29, 53 (E.D.N.Y. 2015).
  • An actual injury under GBL §§ 349 and 350 typically requires a plaintiff to allege that, on account of a materially misleading practice, she purchased a product and did not receive the full value of her purchase.” Duran, 450 F. Supp. 3d at 350 (alteration omitted) (quoting Daniel v. Mondelez Int'l, Inc., 287 F. Supp. 3d 177, 195 (E.D.N.Y. 2018)).
  • A plaintiff can show injury by alleging an overpayment, or a price premium, whereby a plaintiff pays more than she would have but for the deceptive practice.’” Id. (quoting Izquierdo v. Mondelez Int'l Inc., No. 16-CV-4697, 2016 WL 6459832, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2016)). However, “[t]o allege injury under a price premium theory, a plaintiff must allege not only a price premium, but also a connection between the misrepresentation and any harm from, or failure of, the product.” See also Sabatano v. Iovate Health Scis. U.S.A. Inc., No. 19-CV-8924, 2020 WL 3415252, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2020).
  • In the Second Circuit, a plaintiff’s failure to respond to contentions raised in a motion to dismiss constitute[s] an abandonment of those claims.” Laface v. E. Suffolk BOCES, No. 18-CV-1314, 2019 WL 1959489, at *8 (E.D.N.Y. May 2, 2019).

Gordon v. Target Corp., 20-CV-9589 (KMK), 2022 WL 836773, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2022).

FDA warning letter over unregulated Phenibut did not prove a false-advertising case

2021:   Following an FDA warning letter for misbranded sleep capsules containing Phenibut, civil plaintiffs sued Evol. Nutrition for its energy drinks that also contained Phenibut. Phenibut is a synthetic derivative of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that is commonly used as a nootropic or anti-anxiety supplement. Phenibut is not GRAS [generally recognized as safe], so for its use in public, the FDA must pre-approve it for sale in the United States.

The plaintiffs claimed to have experienced side effects including “unwell ... uneasy, nausea, and other hangover-like symptoms for up to twenty-four hours after.” The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant failed to warn of the side effects of Phenibut, including addiction. However, GBL § 349 requires an “inherently deceptive,” “free-standing claim” that would be “misleading to a reasonable consumer,” ruled the court. The plaintiffs “essentially tried to re-characterize a statutory violation for the ‘deceptive’ requirement.” The FDA’s warning letter did not alone put the defendant on notice of the addictive nature of Phenibut.

The elements to state a claim under General Business Law § 349:

  1. the challenged act or practice was consumer-oriented;
  2. the act was misleading in a material way; and
  3. the plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the challenged act.

Womack v. EVOL Nutrition Associates, Inc., 621CV00332BKSTWD, 2021 WL 5906340, at *7 (NDNY Dec. 14, 2021).

Smokehouse® almonds may misleadingly imply that they are smoked over a fire

2021:   Plaintiffs sued Blue Diamond Growers for deceptively marketing almonds as “smoked” when they were merely smoke flavored. Using a Smokehouse® trademark with a “red color scheme” may have implied to reasonable consumers that the almonds were smoked over a fire. The consumers stated a claim for false advertising and deceptive business practices under NYGBL §§ 349 and 350. The word “smokehouse” is defined in the dictionary as a “physical structure where food is prepared through the process of using actual smoke.” The plaintiffs pointed to federal regulation (21 CFR § 101.22) that allegedly prohibits the misrepresentation of the word “smoked.” To proceed with the case, the plaintiffs must also allege an injury, which in a false advertising case, usually means not receiving the full value of the purchase. Here, a price-premium theory (overpayment) was sufficient to allege an injury. All other claims were dismissed: fraud (lack of fraudulent intent), negligent misrepresentation (no special relationship), breach of express warranty (no pre-suit notice), implied warranty (lack of privity and lack of pre-suit notice), and unjust enrichment (duplicative theory). Colpitts v. Blue Diamond Growers, 527 F. Supp. 3d 562 (S.D.N.Y. 2021).

An incomplete legal treatise is “consumer-oriented” but not “materially misleading”

2021:  Allegations that a legal publisher misrepresented the completeness of its legal coverage was not “materially misleading” under GBL § 349, held the court. The plaintiffs, who are legal professionals, alleged that New York Landlord-Tenant Law deceptively omitted rent control and stabilization laws and regulations. But New York’s highest court ruled that reasonable consumers would not expect every section to be current and accurate, especially given a disclaimer stating otherwise. The lower court erred, however, in ruling that GBL § 349 was inapplicable because the treatise was not used for personal, family, or household use (traditional consumer standard). But the practice is “consumer-oriented” with “a broader impact on the public at large.” GBL § 349 is “focused on the seller’s deception and its subsequent impact on consumer decision-making, not on the consumer’s ultimate use of a product.” Besides, legal professionals are a subclass of consumers; The defendant’s conduct need not be “directed to all members of the public.” Himmelstein v. Mathew Bender & Company, Inc., a Member of LexisNexis Group, Inc., 150 N.Y.S. 3d 79 (Ct. App. 2021).

Weight-loss product not “materially misleading” for not disclosing alleged cancer risk

2021:   A patient prescribed a weight-loss medication sued the manufacturer, distributor, and pharmacy for false advertising and other theories. She alleged that the defendant’s failure to disclose an elevated risk of cancer rendered it “unfit for use.” She pointed out a rat study that linked an ingredient, lorcaserin, to aggressive tumors in rats. The plaintiff alleged that the failure to disclose the risks in that study constituted a material omission that misbranded the product and elevated the price. But the court found a lack of evidence connecting the alleged omission to a traceable injury to the plaintiffs. More than a mere purchase of the product is needed to demonstrate an injury. Nor did the plaintiff’s putative class develop cancer. The plaintiff pointed to no affirmative misrepresentation and did not prove that the defendant knew of any misrepresentation, which needed to support fraud or fraudulent concealment. Evidence of reliance on any particular representation was also lacking. As to direct liability, the court found that doctors—not manufacturers or distributors— have the duty to warn patients of potential side effects and health risks. This duty arises from the intermediary doctrine that imposes a duty to warn the doctor—not the patient—of a “drug’s side effects and risks. Zottola v. Eisai Inc., 564 F. Supp. 3d 302 (S.D.N.Y. 2021).

More holdings in Zottola v. Eisai Inc.

  • “Materially misleading” means likely to mislead a reasonable consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances.
  • Reliance is not an element of a false-advertising claim under GBL § 350, consistent with the New York Court of Appeals in Koch. With some disagreement, courts in the second circuit tend to agree. For example:
    • Neither GBL §§349 nor 350 require proof of reliance. New World Sols., Inc. v. NameMedia Inc., 150 F. Supp. 3d 287, 330 (S.D.N.Y. 2015). Also, a business may bring a claim under GBL §§349 or 350, provided the conduct is directed at consumers or causes harm to the public at large.
    • Reliance is not an element of either GBL §§349 or 350 because of the uniform nature of the tests for each, as held in Orlando. Relating to a computer protection plan bought through Staples, the plaintiffs alleged that Staples unlawfully disclaimed services in the first year of the manufacturer's warranty period. Consumers may be misled by ambiguous warranty provisions relating to the first year of coverage. Staples providing dual coverage for the first year is a reasonable interpretation. Staples’ refusal to provide service during that year was sufficiently alleged as an injury under GBL §§349 or 350.
  • In a breach of implied warranty of merchantability, a plaintiff must show that the product was not reasonably fit for its intended purpose. This inquiry focuses on expectations for the product’s performance when it’s used in a customary and reasonably foreseeable way. N.Y. Uniform Commercial Code § 2-314. [Implied Warranty: Merchantability; Usage of Trade].
  • There is no privity (legal connection) with the pharmacy to support a merchantability claim because the pharmacy did not market or make the product.
  • A fraud claim in New York is (1) a material misrepresentation or omission of fact, (2) made with knowledge of its falsity, (3) with an intent to defraud and (4) reasonable reliance on the part of the plaintiff, (5) that causes damage to the plaintiff.
  • To establish fraudulent concealment, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to disclose material information relevant to an issue.
  • “Under New York law, an unjust enrichment claim is not available where it simply duplicates, or replaces, a conventional contract or tort claim; nor is it a catchall cause of action to be used when others fail.”
  • The defendants, in this case, were Eisai Inc., Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

"Natural" cosmetics are possibly deceptive when they contain synthetic ingredients

2018:  Cosmetics marketed as "natural" were fair game for a false-advertising case under GBL §§ 349 and 350. The plaintiffs contended that 22 synthetic agreements rendered words like "natural" false and material to purchasing decisions. The issue was whether a "reasonable consumer acting reasonably" would be misled by the use of "natural"—not whether plaintiffs disproved the product's naturalness. The plaintiffs' interpretation was not unreasonable as a matter of law to support a dismissal. Listing synthetic ingredients in the ingredient list would not cure a reasonable misimpression caused elsewhere on the package. All statements are viewed in context as an "entire mosaic." Notably, the court ruled that the consumer plaintiffs had standing for injunctive relief, regardless of their intention to purchase the products in the future. Petrosino v. Stearn's Products, Inc., 16-CV-7735 (NSR), 2018 WL 1614349, at *6–7 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2018).

Cheez-It “made with whole grain” deceptively implied that whole grain was the main ingredient, alleged plaintiffs

2018:   The claims “whole grain” and “made with whole grain” in large font on the front of Cheez-It boxes were misleading because the predominant ingredient was enriched flour—not whole grain, alleged the plaintiffs. In the eyes of reasonable consumers, “context is crucial.” The court considers the “advertisement as a whole,” disclaimers, and qualifying language in its misleadingness analysis. The defendant accurately displayed enriched flour as the first ingredient but did not “dispel the inference” to reasonable consumers that the product was predominantly whole grain. “Disclosures on the side of the box did not render the plaintiff’s allegations implausible.” The court continued, “[t]he misleading quality of the message is not effectively cured by implicitly disclosing the predominance of enriched white flour in small print on an ingredients list on the side of the package.” “Reasonable consumers should not be expected to consult the Nutrition Facts panel on the side of the box to correct misleading information set forth in large bold type on the front.” Mantikas v. Kellogg Co., 910 F.3d 633 (2d Cir. 2018).

Other law cited in Mantikas v. Kellog Co.:

  • As required by federal regulation, the defendant listed ingredients in order of their predominance, with the primary ingredient listed first. See 21 C.F.R § 101.4 (requiring ingredients to be listed “in descending order of predominance by weight”).
  • “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

Plaintiffs failed to prove that Dannon’s “natural” yogurt was not “natural”

2017:   Dannon Company’s “natural” yogurt stood up against attack by claims that its cows generally consumed G.M.O. feed and antibiotics. Without alleging specific facts or specific practices against Dannon to dispute the “natural” labeling, the plaintiff’s industry-based arguments were too speculative and based on “feelings.” Dannon did “not specifically represent that its products are either GMO-free or not given hormones or antibiotics. Podpeskar v. Dannon Company, Inc., 2017 WL 6001845 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).

Evidence of fraudulent intent against Gerber for false allergy claims

2017:   Consumers sufficiently stated claims against Gerber for fraudulently claiming that its infant formula helped reduce the risk of allergies despite evidence to the contrary.

Gerber first sought FDA approval for this qualified health claim: “emerging clinical research in healthy infants with a family history of allergy shows that feeding a 100% Whey–Protein Partially Hydrolyzed formula may reduce the risk of common food allergy symptoms, particularly allergic skin rash.”

The FDA’s response to Gerber: “no credible evidence to support the qualified health claim relating to the consumption of 100 percent partially hydrolyzed whey protein in infant formula to a reduced risk of food allergy.

Four years later, Gerber again sought qualified approval for allergy claims phrased differently. But the FDA found that the “claim mischaracterized the scientific evidence and was therefore misleading.” The FDA necessitated a qualifying statement about infants with existing milk allergies to use such an allergy claim. Gerber failed to use that qualifier, “essential information necessary to ensure the safety of consumers.”

Gerber advertised infant formula with the following advertising claims:

  • “the first and only formula brand made from 100% whey protein hydrolyzed, and that meets the criteria for a FDA Qualified Health Claim for atopic dermatitis.”
  • “1st & only routine formula to reduce the risk of developing allergies”

The plaintiffs filed suit against Gerber for two deceptive representations: (1) that the Infant Formula reduces the risk that infants will develop allergies, and (2) that the Infant Formula meets the criteria for an FDA-qualified health claim for atopic dermatitis. Plaintiffs supported its complaint with a study concluding that “partially hydrolyzed whey protein does not lower the risk that infants will develop allergies.”

The plaintiffs adequately alleged Gerber’s lack of scientific support and FDA mischaracterization as evidence of fraudulent intent. Gerber knew that the FDA disapproved its petitioned allergy claims, and Gerber was uniquely positioned to know that at least one significant study conclusively refuted its allergy claims. These facts state a claim for negligent misrepresentation held the court.

Gerber was not entitled to a safe-harbor defense under GBL §§ 349(d) or 350-d for the FDA’s alleged endorsement of its qualified health claim. The FDAs letter did not constitute a “rule or regulation” covered under the safe-harbor provisions of GBL §§ 349(d) or 350-d. Safe-harbor protection means statutory protection from liability if certain conduct complies with federal law.

Finally, as to the plaintiff’s claim of intentional misrepresentation, the court found that they have “adequately pled facts to support an inference of “conscious misbehavior or recklessness.”

Other legal principles enunciated in Greene v. Gerber Product:

  • New York’s deception statute (GBL § 349) does not impose pleading-with-particularity requirements as would a common-law fraud claim.
  • False advertising (GBL § 350) requires reliance on the misrepresentation, while deception under GBL § 349 does not.
  • Under GBL § 349, an injury can result from an overpayment due to a misrepresentation.
  • A fraudulent concealment claim in New York imposes a duty to disclose material information in the following scenarios: a) the parties are in a fiduciary relationship under the special facts doctrine, b) one party possesses superior knowledge not readily available to the other, and knows that the other is acting based on mistaken knowledge, or c) a party has made a partial or ambiguous statement, whose whole meaning will only be made clear after complete disclosure.
  • Although a duty to disclose material information arises in direct business transactions, courts may impose that duty to disclose on a manufacturer who has exclusive knowledge of a product defect or danger.
  • If supported by facts giving rise to a strong inference of fraudulent intent, conclusory assertions of intent may be enough to state a claim.
  • A claim of negligent misrepresentation requires the plaintiff to show (1) the existence of a special or privity-like relationship imposing a duty on the defendant to impart correct information to the plaintiff; (2) that the information was incorrect; and (3) reasonable reliance on the information.
  • A claim of intentional misrepresentation requires the plaintiff to show: (1) a misrepresentation or a material omission known to be false (2) made for the purpose of inducing the other party to rely upon it (3) justifiable reliance on the other party on the misrepresentation or material omission, and (4) injury.
  • A plaintiff may plausibly plead scienter (intent) through allegations of a motive to deceive and deprive access to accurate information. “An egregious refusal to see the obvious, or to investigate the doubtful, may in some cases give rise to an inference of recklessness.” Chill v. Gen. Elec. Co., 101 F.3d 263, 268 (2d Cir. 1996).

Plaintiff failed to show an injury after buying protein supplements containing ineffective ingredients

2017:   Two ingredients—lactase and Aminogen— in three protein supplements produced a lawsuit claiming that the supplement labels “misrepresented the function” of aiding protein absorption. But the plaintiffs failed to produce scientific support to show that doses of Aminogen in the products were ineffective. Regarding the lactase claim, the remaining defendant argued that the label “misleadingly implies that both lactase and Aminogen aid in the absorption of protein.” Pointing to the language on the label, the court found that “a reasonable consumer could be mistakenly led to believe that Defendant’s product contains two such ingredients.” But the Plaintiff came up short of proving a pecuniary injury of overpayment based on the alleged misrepresentations. The court dismissed claims under GBL §§ 349 and 350 since the plaintiffs did not demonstrate an injury. Finally, since the remaining Plaintiff could not prove that he relied on the lactase advertising, he could not succeed under a breach-of-express warranty theory. Segovia v. Vitamin Shoppe, Inc., 14-CV-7061 (NSR), 2017 WL 6398747, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2017).

Other important holdings and citations in Segovia v. Vitamin Shoppe, Inc.:

  • To establish a prima facie case for breach of express warranty under New York law, a plaintiff must plead and prove (1) the existence of a material statement amounting to a warranty, (2) the buyer’s reliance on this warranty as a basis for the contract with the immediate seller, (3) breach of the warranty, and (4) injury to the buyer caused by the breach. Segovia v. Vitamin Shoppe, Inc., at *5 citing Goldemberg, 8 F. Supp. 3d at 482 (citing Avola v. La.-Pac. Corp., 991 F. Supp. 2d 381, 391 (E.D.N.Y. 2013).
  • While a plaintiff is not required to prove individual reliance on misleading statements to sustain a claim under GBL §§ 349 and 350, Plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s deceptive act caused some actual injury. Segovia v. Vitamin Shoppe, Inc., at *4 citing Oswego Laborers’ Local 214 Pension Fund v. Marine Midland Bank, N.A., 85 N.Y.2d 20, (1995).

Segovia v. Vitamin Shoppe, Inc., 14-CV-7061 (NSR), 2017 WL 6398747, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2017).

No injury was alleged by the purchase of Sour Patch candy that contained "slack-fill" (unnecessary space)

2016:   In a "slack-fill" case, the plaintiffs claimed that a box of Sour Patch Candy could hold double the pieces it contained: 50 pieces versus 28. As such, the plaintiffs paid a premium price of $4.29 at an AMC movie theater. NYGBL § 349 broadly covers misbranding and has also "been interpreted to claims for excessive slack-fill." See Mennen Co. v. Gillette Co., 565 F. Supp. 648, 655 (S.D.N.Y. 1983). New York has a misbranding statute: "Food shall be deemed to be misbranded if "its container is so made, formed, colored or filled as to be misleading." N.Y. Agric. & Markets Law § 201-a. But this case failed because the plaintiff did not allege an injury, such as paying a higher price because of the slack-fill. New York does not permit the "flawed deception as injury" theory, which requires a discrete injury aside from the purchase. The court rejected the defendant's argument that "food packaging cannot be materially misleading so long as it displays the net weight and lists the number of pieces inside of the package." But given the plaintiff's failure to plead a cognizable injury, the case was dismissed.

Izquierdo v. Mondelez Intl., Inc., 16-CV-04697 (CM), 2016 WL 6459832, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2016).

Sidenote: What is "slack-fill"?

Slack-fill is the difference between a container's actual capacity and the product volume it contains. It refers to the space or air intentionally left in a package for various reasons, such as protecting the contents from damage during transportation, accommodating the manufacturing process, or providing space for labeling, instructions, or other required information.

While some slack-fill is necessary and unavoidable, excessive slack-fill can mislead consumers, creating the impression that the package contains more product than it actually does. Various laws and regulations have been implemented to address this issue, requiring that slack-fill be minimized or justified by a legitimate functional purpose.

More legal holdings in Izquierdo v. Mondelez Intl., Inc.:

  • An unjust enrichment claim is unavailable where it simply duplicates or replaces a conventional contract or tort claim." Corsello v. Verizon New York, Inc., 18 N.Y.3d 777, (2012). However, an unjust enrichment claim cannot remedy the defects if a plaintiff's other claims are defective. Id.
  • To adequately plead fraud based on misrepresentation:
    • (1) the defendant represented or omitted a material fact;
    • (2) the representation was false;
    • (3) the defendant knew that it was false and made it intending to deceive the plaintiff;
    • (4) the plaintiff believed the representation to be true and justifiably acted in reliance on it and was deceived; and
    • (5) the plaintiff was injured. See Kerusa Co. LLC v. W10Z/515 Real Estate Ltd. P'ship, 12 N.Y.3d 236, (2009).
  • To state a claim for negligent misrepresentation:
    • (1) the defendant had a duty, as a result of a special relationship, to give correct information;
    • (2) the defendant made a false representation that they should have known was incorrect;
    • (3) the information supplied in the representation was known by the defendant to be desired by the plaintiff for a serious purpose;
    • (4) the plaintiff intended to rely and act upon it; and
    • (5) the plaintiff reasonably relied on it to their detriment.

Consumers plausibly alleged that Staple's "Carry-in Protection Plan" is deceptive in scope

2015:   At issue was Staple's denial of computer services with the purchase of a manufacturer's warranty ("Carry-in Protection Plan"). The plan excluded Staple's responsibility to service the computers until the manufacturer's warranty expired, argued Staples. But reasonable consumers could interpret the plan to include Staple's promise to service the computers during the first year. The ambiguities of the plan were "numerous and complex," held the court. Consumers could reasonably believe they would not have to deal with the manufacturer. As such, the plaintiffs adequately alleged breach of contract and deceptive business practices under GBL §§349 or 350. Not having received what they thought was the "full value" of Staple's promise, the plaintiff alleged an injury. Reliance is not an element of either GBL §§349 or 350 because of the uniform nature of the tests for each held the court. Orlander v. Staples, Inc., 802 F.3d 289 (2d Cir. 2015).

Justifiable reliance on a false-advertising claim is not required under NY law

2012:   To successfully assert a claim under General Business Law § 349(h) or § 350, a “plaintiff must allege that a defendant has engaged in (1) consumer-oriented conduct that is (2) materially misleading and that (3) plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the allegedly deceptive act or practice.” Reversing the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals held that “justifiable reliance was not an element of buyer’s claims for deceptive acts and practices, and false advertisement.” Furthermore, the disclaimer “as is” relating to vintage wine did not foreclose the claims. Koch v. Acker, Merrall & Condit Co., 967 N.E.2d 675, 675 (N.Y. 2012).

False advertising claims against an In vitro fertilization company may proceed

1999:  Patients sued a marketer of in vitro fertilization (IVF) services for exaggerating success rates of pregnancies. The FTC had declared the advertisements deceptive and compelled the defendant to refrain from using them. Private plaintiffs sued for the same activity the following year. General Business Law § 349(a) and § 350 are “equally broad” to cover deceptive business practices and false advertising. These statutes are “powerful tools” to “combat fraud in health care and medical services.” The statutes apply to “virtually all economic activity.” Advertising is “false” if it “is misleading in a material respect.” The lower court erred in framing the theory solely under Public Health Law § 2805-d, which limits rights in cases claiming a lack of informed consent. But this case was about advertising. The “defendant’s mult-media dissemination of information to the public is precisely the sort of consumer-oriented conduct that is targeted by GBL§ 349(a) and § 350.” New York objectively defines deceptive acts and practices, by representation or omission, as those “likely to mislead a reasonable consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances.” Karlin v. IVF Am., Inc., 712 N.E.2d 662, 664 (N.Y. 1999).

Contact us with any questions about false advertising.


[1] Koch v. Acker, Merrall & Condit Co., 18 N.Y.3d 940, 944 N.Y.S.2d 452, 675 (2012).

[2] The elements of a cause of action under GBL § 349 are: “first, that the challenged act or practice was consumer-oriented; second, that it was misleading in a material way; and third, that the plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the deceptive act” (Stutman v. Chemical Bank, 95 NY2d 24, 29 [2000]). “Section 349 does not grant a private remedy for every improper or illegal business practice, but only for conduct that tends to deceive consumers” (Schlessinger v. Valspar Corp., 21 NY3d 166, 172 [2013]). Ctr. for Rheumatology, LLP v Shapiro, 65 Misc 3d 1205(A) (Sup Ct 2019).

[3] Goshen v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York, 98 N.Y.2d 314, 746 N.Y.S.2d 858, 774 N.E.2d 1190, 1195 n.1 (2002) (“The standard for recovery under General Business Law § 350, while specific to false advertising, is otherwise identical to section 349.”).

[4] § 127:34. GBL § 350, 4F N.Y.Prac., Com. Litig. in New York State Courts § 127:34 (5th ed.).

[5] Oswego Laborers' Local 214 Pension Fund v. Marine Midland Bank, NA, 85 N.Y.2d 20, 25, 623 N.Y.S.2d 529 ( Ct. App. 1995) (quoting Mem. of Governor Rockefeller, 1970 NY Legis. Ann., at 472).

[6] § 127:14. GBL § 349—Other statutory requirements—“Deceptive act or practice”, 4F N.Y.Prac., Com. Litig. in New York State Courts § 127:14 (5th ed.)

[7] GBL § 350-d (Attorney General's right of action), § 350-e (private party's right of action).

[8] GBL § 350-e.

[9] GBL § 350-e; Koch v. Greenberg, 14 F. Supp. 3d 247, 280, 94 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 52 (SD NY 2014), aff'd, 626 Fed. Appx. 335 (2d Cir. 2015) (denying attorneys' fees under GBL § 350-e and GBL § 349-h).

[10] GBL § 350-e.

[11] GBL § 350-e.

[12] Karlin v. IVF America, Inc., 93 N.Y.2d 282, 290, 690 N.Y.S.2d 495, 712 N.E.2d 662 (1999)

[13] Goshen v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York, 98 N.Y.2d 314 (2002).

[14] Koch v. Greenberg, 14 F. Supp. 3d 247, 94 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 52 (SD NY 2014), aff'd, 626 Fed. Appx. 335 (2d Cir. 2015) (finding conduct consumer-oriented where the defendant sold a large number of allegedly counterfeit wine bottles at auction to a number of people in addition to the plaintiff).

[15] Andre Strishak & Associates, PC v. Hewlett Packard Co., 300 A.D.2d 608, 609, 752 N.Y.S.2d 400, 403 (2d Dep't 2002). Note, however, that there are older cases which differ on this point. “The standard to be applied to determine whether an advertisement is misleading is not whether it is deceptive to the hypothetical reasonable person, but to ‘the ignorant, the unthinking and the credulous who, in making purchases, do not stop to analyze but are governed by appearances and general impressions” De Santis v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., 148 A.D.2d 36, 38, 543 N.Y.S.2d 228, 229 (3d Dep't 1989). “In weighing a statement's capacity, tendency or effect in deceiving or misleading customers, we do not look to the average customer but to the vast multitude which the statutes were enacted to safeguard including the ignorant, the unthinking and the credulous who, in making purchases, do not stop to analyze but are governed by appearances and general impressions.” Guggenheimer v. Ginzburg, 43 N.Y.2d 268, 401 N.Y.S.2d 182, 372 N.E.2d 17, 19 (1977).

[16] See Austin v. Albany Law School of Union University, 38 Misc. 957 N.Y.S.2d 833, 840 (Sup 2013); Bevelacqua v. Brooklyn Law School, 39 Misc. 3d 1216(A), 975 N.Y.S.2d 365, 2013 WL 1761504, at *9 (Sup 2013). The sophistication of the target consumer may skew a court's reasonable consumer analysis. For example, in Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, LLP v. Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., the Court of Appeals found that a legal resource manual, purchased by the plaintiff legal professionals, could not have materially misled a reasonable consumer into believing it contained full and current laws, even though the manual stated that it contained “the laws and regulations” of one sort and only “selected” or “excerpt[ed]” laws of another. Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, LLP v. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2021 WL 2228800 (NY 2021). The court's stated reasoning was that the sales contract disclaimed warranties as to the “accuracy, reliability, and currentness” of the manual. Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, LLP v. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2021 WL 2228800, at *5-6 (NY 2021).

[17] GBL § 350-d; People ex rel. Schneiderman v. Sangamon Mills, Inc., 42 Misc. 3d 1225(A), 992 N.Y.S.2d 159 (Sup Ct. 2014) ($25,000 civil penalty awarded to New York State under GBL § 350-d); People ex rel. Schneiderman v. Sign FX, Inc., 993 N.Y.S.2d 645 (Sup. Ct. 2014) (“civil penalties of $5,000 awarded to the State of New York for each deceptive act and practice pursuant to GBL § 350-d”).

[18] People ex rel. Spitzer v. Applied Card Systems, Inc., 834 N.Y.S.2d 558, 563 (3d Dep't 2007), aff'd, 11 N.Y.3d 105, 863 N.Y.S.2d 615 (2008); see also, People ex rel. Schneiderman v. Hudson River Rafting Co., Inc., 40 Misc. 3d 1210(A), 975 N.Y.S.2d 711 (Sup 2013).

[19] GBL § 350.

[20] American Home Products Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson, 672 F. Supp. 135, 144, (SD NY 1987) (“Although § 350-c refers only to regulations administered by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the New York courts have construed that statute to cover regulations by other federal agencies as well.” (citing Mendelson v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 466 N.Y.S.2d 168 (Sup 1983))).

[21] GBL § 349c Additional civil penalty for consumer frauds against elderly persons

[22] Greene v. Gerber Products Co., 262 F. Supp. 3d 38, 70 (ED NY 2017) (finding that the FDA letter approving the defendant's label did not provide a defense under GBL §§ 350-d, 349 (d), since the letter did not constitute a rule or regulation, and the defendant failed to prove compliance with the letter); Carias v. Monsanto Company, 83 Env't. Rep. Cas. (BNA) 1396, Prod. Liab. Rep. (CCH) P 19923, 2016 WL 6803780, at *8 (ED NY 2016) (finding that the EPA's approval of the pesticide labels did not provide a safe harbor under GBL §§ 350-d, 349 (d), since it was not conclusive on the compliance with the FIFRA).

[23] In re Frito-Lay North America, Inc. All Natural Litigation, 2013 WL 4647512, at *22 (ED NY 2013) (“Again, it is not clear that FDA's guidance on “natural” labeling is a “rule or regulation” within the meaning of §§ 349(d) and 350-d.”).

[24] § 3013. Particularity of statements generally:

“Statements in a pleading shall be sufficiently particular to give the court and parties notice of the transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, intended to be proved and the material elements of each cause of action or defense.”

[25] UCC § 2-607. Effect of Acceptance; Notice of Breach; Burden of Establishing Breach After Acceptance; Notice of Claim or Litigation to Person Answerable Over

(3) Where a tender has been accepted

(a) the buyer must within a reasonable time after he discovers or should have discovered any breach notify the seller of breach or be barred from any remedy....

[26] Koch v. Acker, Merrall & Condit Co., 18 N.Y.3d 940 (2012).

[27] See, e.g., Morrissey v. Nextel Partners, Inc., 880 N.Y.S.2d 874 (Sup 2009), aff'd as modified on other grounds, 895 N.Y.S.2d 580 (3d Dep't 2010) (“Not surprisingly, in light of the element of reliance attendant upon any GBL § 350 claim, this Court's research has failed to disclose a single reported New York case in which a class certification motion for such a cause of action was ultimately successful.”).

[28] Oden v. Boston Scientific Corporation, 330 F. Supp. 3d 877, 902 (ED NY 2018), adhered to on reconsideration, 2019 WL 1118052 (ED NY 2019).

[29] Id.

[30] In re Nassau County Consol. MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) Products Liability Litigation, 918 N.Y.S.2d 399 (Sup 2010), judgment entered, 2011 WL 12521632 (NY Sup 2011) (“A plaintiff may not recover damages under GBL § 349 for purely indirect or derivative losses that were the result of third-parties being allegedly misled or deceived.”); see also City of New York v. Smokes-Spirits.Com, Inc., 12 N.Y.3d 616, 883 N.Y.S.2d 772, 911 N.E.2d 834, 839 (2009) (“If a plaintiff could avoid the derivative injury bar by merely alleging that its suit would somehow benefit the public, then the very ‘tidal wave of litigation’ … would loom ominously on the horizon.” (internal citations omitted)).

[31] See, e.g., UnitedHealthcare Services, Inc. v. Asprinio, 16 N.Y.S.3d 139, 150 (Sup 2015) (“[S]uch allegedly deceptive acts were not directed at the consumer but rather to a large institutional provider of health insurance or, even more indirectly to the plan sponsors who might see their premiums increase. Such conduct cannot be viewed as consumer related.”).

[32] See, e.g., North State Autobahn, Inc. v. Progressive Ins. Group Co., 953 N.Y.S.2d 96, 105 (2d Dep't 2012) (“Here, the plaintiffs alleged that they were directly injured by the Progressive defendants' deceptive practices in that customers were misled into taking their vehicles from the plaintiffs to competing repair shops that participated in the DRP [(Direct Repair Program)]. The allegedly deceptive conduct was … in an effort to wrest away customers through false and misleading statements. The plaintiffs' alleged injury did not require a subsequent consumer transaction; rather, it was sustained when customers were unfairly induced into taking their vehicles from the plaintiffs' shop to a DRP shop …. The plaintiffs adequately alleged that as a result of this misleading conduct, they suffered direct business loss ….”).

[33] Blue Cross, 3 N.Y.3d at 207.

[34] Voters for Animal Rights v D'Artagnan, Inc., 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2020 WL 9209257, at *5 [EDNY July 15, 2020], report and recommendation adopted, 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2021 WL 1138017 [EDNY Mar. 25, 2021]

[35] Voters for Animal Rights v D'Artagnan, Inc., 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2020 WL 9209257, at *7 [EDNY July 15, 2020], report and recommendation adopted, 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2021 WL 1138017 [EDNY Mar. 25, 2021]

[36] Joannou v. Blue Ridge Ins. Co., 735 N.Y.S.2d 786, 787 (2d Dep't 2001).

[37] Oswego Laborers' Local 214 Pension Fund v. Marine Midland Bank, NA, 85 N.Y.2d 20, 25, 623 N.Y.S.2d 529, 647 N.E.2d 741, 744 (1995).

[38] Michelo v. National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-2, 419 F. Supp. 3d 668, 709 (SD NY 2019) (quoting Shafran v. Harley-Davidson, Inc., 2008 WL 763177 (SD NY 2008)).

[39] Michelo v. National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-2, 419 F. Supp. 3d 668, 707 (SD NY 2019).

[40] Oswego Laborers' Local 214 Pension Fund v. Marine Midland Bank, NA, 85 N.Y.2d 20, 26, 623 N.Y.S.2d 529 (Ct. App. 1995) (“[A] plaintiff seeking compensatory damages must show that the defendant engaged in a material deceptive act or practice that caused actual, although not necessarily pecuniary, harm.”).

[41] Guzman v. Mel S. Harris and Associates, LLC, 2018 WL 1665252, at *12 (S.D. N.Y. 2018).

[42] Miller v. Kaminer, 88 N.Y.S.3d 792 (N.Y. City Civ. Ct. 2018).

[43] Id.

[44] Corsello v. Verizon New York, Inc., N.Y.S.2d 732, 967 N.E.2d 1177 (2012); Gaidon v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 96 N.Y.2d 201, 727 N.Y.S.2d 30, 750 N.E.2d 1078 (2001).

[45] Corsello v. Verizon New York, Inc., 944 N.Y.S.2d 732, 967 N.E.2d 1177 (2012) (“[S]tatute runs from the time when the plaintiff was injured.”); Wender v. Gilberg Agency, 276 A.D.2d 311, 312, 716 N.Y.S.2d 40, 42–43 (1st Dep't 2000) (holding that the date of discovery rule cannot extend the limitations period of GBL § 349). Cf. The People of the State of New York v. The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC, 2014 WL 344047 (NY Sup 2014) (holding that the Attorney General's GBL § 349 claim runs from the time of commission of the fraudulent practices, not when they were discovered).

[46] See, e.g., Loiodice v. BMW of North America, LLC, 4 N.Y.S.3d 102, 104, 85 UCC Rep. Serv. 2d 831 (2d Dep't 2015) (holding that where the car owner sued manufacturer, injury occurred at the time of the purchase); Enzinna v. D'Youville College, N.Y.S.2d 729, 730, 266 Ed. Law Rep. 943 (4th Dep't 2011) (holding that the injury of students, who sued their school based on a false promise of their eligibility for chiropractic licenses, occurred when they graduated and learned their ineligibility, as opposed to when they enrolled and paid tuition).

[47] Gaidon v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 96 N.Y.2d 201, 206, 211, 727 N.Y.S.2d 30, 750 N.E.2d 1078 (2001).

[48] Singh v. City of New York, 189 A.D.3d 1697, 1699, 139 N.Y.S.3d 307 (2d Dep't 2020).

[49] See Pirrelli v. OCWEN Loan Servicing, LLC, 129 A.D.3d 689, 693, 12 N.Y.S.3d 110, 115 (2d Dep't 2015) (holding that the defendants' affirmative concealment of deceptive business practices tolled the limitations period); see also Michelo v. National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-2, 419 F. Supp. 3d 668, 699–700 (SD NY 2019). But cf. State ex rel. Spitzer v. Daicel Chemical Industries, Ltd., 42 A.D.3d 301, 303, 840 N.Y.S.2d 8, 12, 2007-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 75780 (1st Dep't 2007) (holding that limitations period did not toll because the plaintiff failed to allege concealment existed after the conspiracy ended).

[50] See Corsello v. Verizon New York, Inc., 18 N.Y.3d 777, 789, 944 N.Y.S.2d 732, (2012) (internal citation omitted) (“[W]here the alleged concealment consisted of … failure to disclose the wrongs … the defendants were not estopped from pleading a statute of limitations defense.”).

[51] See Harvey v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 34 A.D.3d 364, 827 N.Y.S.2d 6 (1st Dep't 2006); Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc. v. Philip Morris, Inc., 178 F. Supp. 2d 198, 273 (ED NY 2001),rev'd on other grounds in part, question certified, 344 F.3d 211 (2d Cir. 2003), certified question accepted, 100 N.Y.2d 636, 769 N.Y.S.2d 196, 801 N.E.2d 417 (2003) and certified question answered, 3 N.Y.3d 200, 785 N.Y.S.2d 399, 818 N.E.2d 1140 (2004) and judgment rev'd on other grounds, 393 F.3d 312 (2d Cir. 2004) (holding that tobacco company's extended campaigns constitute continuing violations sufficient to toll limitations period). Cf. The People of the State of New York v. The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC, 2014 WL 344047 (NY Sup 2014) (holding that the continuing wrong doctrine did not apply where the deception was a discrete event occurred at particular time).

[52] Lucker v. Bayside Cemetery, 114 A.D.3d 162, 175, 979 N.Y.S.2d 8, 18 (1st Dep't 2013) (holding that where there were only recurring injuries, continuing violation doctrine did not apply).

[53] Mulroney, Deceptive Practices in the Marketplace: Consumer Protection by New York Government Agencies, 3 Fordham Urb. LJ 491, 499 (1975).

[54] Hansen, Consumer Protection Provisions Prohibiting “Deceptive Practices” and “False Advertising”: Proper Vehicles for the Protection of Intellectual Property, 2 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. LJ 31, 31–32 (1991). Attorney General, Memorandum for the Governor re Senate Int. 1581, Pr. 1604, 1 (Jan. 8, 1963).

[55] Id.

[56] Oswego Laborers' Local 214 Pension Fund v. Marine Midland Bank, NA, 85 N.Y.2d 20, (1995) (citing Mem. of Governor Rockefeller approving L 1970, chs. 43, 44, 1970 McKinney's Session Laws of NY, at 3074 (Mar. 3, 1970)).

[57] Hansen Supra at 33.

[58] General Business Law § 350-c.Notice of proposed action: Before the attorney-general commences an action pursuant to section three hundred fifty-d of this article he shall be required to give the person against whom such action is contemplated appropriate notice by certified mail and an opportunity to show, either orally or in writing, why such action should not be commenced. In such showing, said person may present, among other things, evidence that the advertisement is subject to and complies with the rules and regulations of, and the statutes administered by, the Federal Trade Commission or any official department, division, commission or agency of the state of New York.

[59] N. State Autobahn, Inc. v. Progressive Ins. Grp. Co., 953 N.Y.S.2d 96, 103 (2012) (citation omitted).

[60] Voters for Animal Rights v D'Artagnan, Inc., 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2020 WL 9209257, at *4 [EDNY July 15, 2020], report and recommendation adopted, 19-CV-6158 (MKB), 2021 WL 1138017 [EDNY Mar. 25, 2021]

[61] Nelson v. MillerCoors, LLC, 246 F. Supp. 3d 666, 674–676 (E.D. N.Y. 2017); Bowring v. Sapporo U.S.A., Inc., 234 F. Supp. 3d 386, 391–392 (ED NY 2017). But cf. People by Schneiderman v. Orbital Publishing Group, Inc., 95 N.Y.S.3d 28, 30 (1st Dep't 2019) (holding that disclaimers were insufficiently prominent to negate misleading impression).

[62] If an advertisement is not commercial speech, the First Amendment will protect them from GBL § 350 violations. In New York Public Interest Research Group, Inc. v. Insurance Information Institute, 554 N.Y.S.2d 590, 592 (1st Dep't 1990) the court held that, since the advertisements did not propose a commercial transaction, they were not commercial speech and therefore protected under the First Amendment. Conversely, in Marcus v. Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth Leisrael), Inc. 557 N.Y.S.2d 886 (1st Dep't 1990) the First Amendment was not implicated where the goal of the defendant's speech was to raise money, rather than to make an educational or persuasive argument, despite defendant's status as a nonprofit.

[63] People ex rel. Spitzer v. Applied Card Systems, Inc., 863 N.Y.S.2d 615, (2008) (the Truth-in-Lending Act did not preempt the Attorney General's claim that the bank's credit card solicitations violated GBL §§ 349, 350); Naevus Intern., Inc. v. AT & T Corp., 724 N.Y.S.2d 721, 723 (1st Dep't 2001) (the Federal Communications Act did not preempt the plaintiffs' claim that cellular company's defecting services violated GBL §§ 349, 350); Morelli v. Weider Nutrition Group, Inc., 712 N.Y.S.2d 551, 552 (1st Dep't 2000) (the Nutritional Labeling and Education Act did not preempt the plaintiffs' claim that misrepresentations of nutritional content violated GBL §§ 349, 350). See also, Geffner v. Coca-Cola Company, 343 F. Supp. 3d 246, 250–252 (SD NY 2018), aff'd, 928 F.3d 198 (2d Cir. 2019) (the FDCA did not preempt the plaintiffs' claim that the defendant's “diet” labeling on soft drinks violated GBL §§ 349, 350); In re Kind LLC “Healthy and All Natural” Litigation, 287 F. Supp. 3d 457, 464 (SD NY 2018) (the National GMO standard law did not preempt the Plaintiffs' claim that defendant's “Non-GMO” labels violated GBL §§ 349, 350); Canale v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 258 F. Supp. 3d 312, 323 (SD NY 2017) (the plaintiffs' claim that the defendant's representation of the whitening effects of its toothpaste violated GBL §§ 349, 350 was not preempted by FDCA since the federal and state requirements were identical).

[64] Andersen v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 2017 WL 661188, at *8 (WD NY 2017) (rejecting plaintiff's argument that “the arbitration clause is invalid because his claims are brought pursuant to statute, not contract,” and concluding that “courts routinely enforce arbitration agreements in cases involving alleged violations of GBL §§ 349 & 350 and other consumer protection statutes.”).

[65] Scholder v. Riviana Foods Inc., 2017 WL 2773586, at *2 (ED NY 2017) (explaining how “several courts … have invoked the doctrine of primary jurisdiction to stay federal court cases arising from allegedly false or misleading claims on food packaging, pending the outcome of the FDA's most recent rulemaking process,” and applying the doctrine to stay the plaintiff's claim that defendant violated GBL § 349 for labeling its pasta product “all natural” when it allegedly contained trace amounts of herbicide).