By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A U.S. judge has dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit claiming that See's Candies, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, sold Valentine's Day chocolates that were mislabeled as kosher.
Though See's admitted to a printing error, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco said the lawsuit by New Jersey resident Avi Weiss did not belong in federal court because he did not show damages exceeding the required $5 million minimum.
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Chen issued his decision on Thursday. Lawyers for Weiss did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. Neil Popovic, a lawyer for See's, declined to comment.
In his February 2016 complaint, Weiss said he had bought See's Classic Red Heart Assorted Chocolates in its shop in Los Angeles, believing they were kosher. A shelf card had been printed with the "KSA" symbol of Kosher Supervision of America, which is often used to designate food as kosher.
Weiss sued on behalf of "thousands" of shoppers who overpaid for or would not have bought the See's candies if they knew they were not kosher. He accused See's of violating California consumer protection and false advertising laws.
The judge said that even if See's sold plenty of kosher candy, only mislabeled products were relevant to determining whether he had jurisdiction, and the evidence suggested that only an "extremely small" percentage was mislabeled.
Chen also noted that See's had disclosed the results of an internal review into whether it had broader mislabeling problems, but Weiss did not fully investigate whether such problems could get him over the $5 million threshold.
In light of that failure, Chen dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again.
See's is based in South San Francisco, California. It has apologized for the printing error, and offered refunds.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)