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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Froot Loops' Lawyer Says His Client Is No Serial Litigant

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge froot_loops.jpg
Yesterday, SF Weekly's intrepid Matt Smith published an article recounting a pair of lawsuits filed by disgruntled breakfast-eater Roy Werbel, who has lodged complaints against both Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries. While the cereals contain absolutely no fruit whatsoever, Werbel claims their misleading monikers deceived him -- for four years.

We caught up with Jeff Kravitz, the lawyer representing Werbel in these cases in San Francisco Federal Court. He said a Sacramento judge had already ruled that no sensible customer would think there's real berries in Crunchberries -- which is bad for his case. But he also noted that a pair of government trademark lawyers, independently, questioned whether there was any fruit in the cereals he's taking to court -- which, he feels, is good for his case.

Kravitz noted that his cases are class-action suits -- meaning this, ostensibly, isn't about a big payday for Werbel, a fortysomething Contra Costa County resident the lawyer is pretty sure holds down gainful employment. This is, according the Kravitz, the first (two) times Werbel has filed suit against a major corporation; as our headline notes, Werbel is no serial litigant.

The lawyer claimed Froot Loops and other junk cereals have tried to pass themselves off as healthful foods for years, and states the companies have been deceptively marketing their products as nourishing and fruit-filled breakfasts to uneducated, lower-income folks (though his client, Werbel, is "educated."). If this case advances, Kravitz says he's confident many consumers will come out of the woodwork claiming they, too, were deceived into buying these cereals because they felt the terms "Froot Loops" and "Crunchberries" implied fruit was used in the products (though the lawyer admits "of course they should have read the ingredients.").

Naturally, if Werbel and Kravitz feel it's a misrepresentation for Froot Loops and Crunchberries to use these fruity monikers, we wondered what the lawyer thought about the most inapropos cereal name of them all: Grape-Nuts. That cereal contains wheat, malted barley, salt, and yeast. No grapes, no nuts. 

"That's news to me," notes the lawyer. "I thought there were nuts in that cereal."

Kravitz argued, in fact, that there must be nuts in Grape-Nuts (there aren't and there mustn't), before noting that he couldn't comment on that any further.

Sadly, we never got to ask him about Lucky Charms representing the product as a talismanic distributor of good fortune or Fruity Pebbles using that description for a food that contains neither fruit nor pebbles.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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