Meet the lawyer behind deceptive marketing lawsuits like the strawberry Pop-Tarts case

This week, a lawsuit against Kellogg's had to do with its "strawberry" Pop-Tarts—which contained little strawberry— made headlines. Class action lawsuits of the sort have become more common since 2008, which is due in large part to a single lawyer.

According to NPR, Spencer Sheehan has been involved in about 120 or lawsuits over the word "vanilla" being used to market products without vanilla. He's gone after companies that use"fudge" labels on products without milkfat, acompany that make Hawaiian rolls outside of Hawaii, and a company that makes carrot cake without carrots. If he sounds busy, it's because he is: he files about three lawsuits per week. In May 2021 alone, he did the following:

He filed suit against Frito-Lay alleging it didn't use enough real lime juice in its "hint of lime" Tostitos. He accused Coors of suggesting its pineapple-and-mango-flavored Vizzy Hard Seltzers are sources of Vitamin C "nutritionally-equivalent" to actual pineapples and mangos. He said Snack Pack pudding — which is advertised as being "made with real milk" — misled consumers because it is made with fat-free skim milk.


His prolificacy has almost single-handedly caused a historic spike in the number of class action lawsuits against food and beverage companies — up more than 1000% since 2008 — in an effort that has vexed food companies and won respect from consumer advocacy groups.


As the plaintiff's attorney on class action lawsuits, Sheehan takes home a chunk of the settlement (estimated 25-35%), and he often claims over $5 million in total damages.