CHICAGO — A class-action fraud lawsuit has been filed against Dunkin' Donuts after a glazed blueberry doughnut bought at a South Loop shop allegedly lacked any actual blueberries.
Bartosz Grabowski bought the doughnut Dec. 10 at the Dunkin' Donuts at 1231 S. Wabash Ave. but it did not contain any real fruit, the suit alleges.
Grabowski filed the class-action lawsuit July 9 in federal court. He is representing more than 100 people in Illinois who all claim they, too, bought products such as doughnuts, Munchkins and crumb cakes with the belief they were made with actual berries — and not "imitation blueberries."
The blueish bits in the bakery products "resemble, and in fact are specifically made to resemble, actual blueberries or pieces of actual blueberry due to their blue color and round shape," Grabowski's lawyers contend.
Dunkin' Donuts has not responded to the claim and asked a judge's permission to take until Aug. 30 to respond to the complaints. An initial hearing is set for Sept. 9.
A spokesman for the company said it was "unable to comment at this time due to pending litigation."
Dunkin' Donuts items billed as containing blueberries are sold at a premium, and the people suing would not have bought them, or would have paid less, with the knowledge they did not actually have blueberries, according to the suit.
Nutritional information regarding the pastries' ingredients is not displayed along with the items, and marketing materials often depict real blueberries side-by-side with the products, which mislead consumers, the suit charges.
Among the allegations is that the imitation blueberries used in Dunkin' Donuts products are "inferior" to the real thing, which can provide health benefits.
"Blueberries have the potential to limit the development and severity of certain cancers and vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases of aging," the suit contends. "Research suggests that blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidant phytonutrients."
Instead, the products contain sugar and corn syrup, gums and artificial food coloring, "blueberry flavored bits" and "flavor crystals" to mimic the fruit, the suit claims.
"Even when consuming the blueberry products, plaintiff and other consumers cannot easily decipher whether the filling or glazing they are consuming contains actual blueberries because defendant has formulated and manufactured the products in a manner that masks the absence of such ingredients," according to the complaint.
The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages, restitution and court fees, plus validation of its claims for violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, common law fraud, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
Grabowski is being represented by James X. Bormes and Catherine P. Sons of the Law Office of James X. Bormes and Thomas M. Ryan of the Law Office of Thomas M. Ryan. None were available for immediate comment.
Grabowski's lawyers argued other items at Dunkin' Donuts, like strawberry doughnuts and "apple crumb"-flavored pastries, did have real fruit as advertised. Therefore, the breakfast chain "was not only capable of formulating and manufacturing the blueberry products to include blueberry, but also was, or should have been, aware that the blueberry products did not contain blueberry and that its representations would deceive unsuspecting consumers," the suit says.
Earlier this year, Dunkin' Donuts was hit with lawsuits that also complained its products did not contain the natural flavors its pastries claimed — such as blueberries, maple and butter.
Read the full lawsuit below.