NERA's Role in SKYE ASTIANA v. BEN & JERRY'S HOMEMADE, INC.

The Situation

In a complaint filed in September 2010, plaintiffs, The Law Offices of Janet Lindner Spielberg, Braun Law Group PC, and Stember Feinstein Doyle Payne & Cordes LLC, brought action against Ben & Jerry's alleging that the defendants had misled California consumers by labeling its ice cream products "all natural," when the products contained synthetically alkalized cocoa, a form of cocoa treated with alkali to neutralize its acidic qualities.

NERA's Role

Dr. Kent Van Liere, Senior Vice President and member of NERA's Survey and Sampling Practices, provided expert analysis of behalf of Ben and Jerry's. Dr. Van Liere conducted a consumer survey to measure the impact of the "all natural" label on consumers understanding of the words "all natural" and their expectations regarding alkalized cocoa. His findings demonstrated those consumers who purchased the Ben & Jerry's ice cream products generally had no expectations about synthetically or naturally alkalized cocoa and that their expectations about alkalization were not material to their purchase decisions.

The Result

On 7 January 2014, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, relying in part on the findings from Dr. Van Liere's survey, denied the Plaintiff's motion for class certification.