State Scuttles Salty Suit

A New Jersey Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit against Denny’s wherein the plaintiff alleged the food served at the restaurant contained excessive levels of sodium. The suit was brought under the Consumer Fraud Act, as plaintiff alleged Denny’s failed to disclose the sodium content of the meals. However, the trial judge determined, and the Appellate Division agreed, that the case was actually a product liability claim because the complaint alleged that excessive levels of sodium are dangerous and cause an increased risk of bodily harm. Under New Jersey law, the NJ Products Liability Act is the exclusive remedy for such claims.

A condition of the NJ Product Liability Act is damages. However, plaintiff’s did not allege any specific damages. Therefore, the trial court dismissed the case, and the Appellate Division affirmed that decision.

In a footnote the Appellate Court noted that the NJ legislature recently passed a law requiring restaurants to disclose the calorie court of the food sold, but did not require restaurants to disclose the sodium content of the food. The court determined that the statute demonstrates the public policy of New Jersey is that a restaurant is not required to disclose the sodium content of food sold.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact David Tavella at dtavella@wcmlaw.com.

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a4135-09.pdf