Food For Thought: A Review Of 2016 Litigation

Author:Ms Angela T. Puentes-Leon, D. Matthew Allen, Alix Cohen, Gregory Boulos, M. Derek Harris, Adrian K. Felix, Amy E. Furness, Amy L. Hurwitz, Jorge A. Pérez Santiago, David L. Luck and Sylvia H. Walbolt
Profession:Carlton Fields

Food for Thought is a review of significant court decisions affecting the food, beverage, dietary supplements and personal care products industry. Although many cases in this edition focus on class certification, others relate to summary judgment.

Consumer Class Action Against Juice Manufacturers Squeezes Through Summary Judgment as District Court Denies Parties' Cross-Motions In re: Simply Orange Juice Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, No. 4:12-md-2361 (W.D. Mo., Feb. 8, 2016)

The In re: Simply Orange Juice Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation consolidated cases are based on allegations that defendants the Coca-Cola Company, Simply Orange Juice Company (a division of Coca-Cola) and Minute Maid Company (a division of Coca-Cola) made false and misleading claims relating to their Simply Orange, Minute Maid Pure Squeezed and Minute Maid Premium orange juices. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the terms "100% Pure Squeezed," "Not from Concentrate," "Simply Orange," "Pure," "Natural," and "Honestly Simple," (for the Simply Orange products), "100% Pure Squeezed," "Pure Squeezed" and "Never from Concentrate" (for the Minute Maid Pure Squeezed products); and "100% Pure Squeezed," "100% Orange Juice," and "natural orange goodness" (for the Minute Maid Premium products) are misleading because the juice products at issue are made using a high-engineered artificial flavoring. Plaintiffs' lawsuit, brought on behalf of individual consumers residing in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York, alleges violation of the consumer protection statutes of multiple states, in addition to various common law claims. Continue reading »

Ninth Circuit Holds California's Nonfunctional Slack Fill Regulations for Meat and Poultry Are Preempted by Federal Law Del Real, LLC v. Harris, 636 Fed. Appx. 956 (9th Cir. Feb. 12, 2016)

California enacted statutory prohibitions against nonfunctional slack fill, which is the empty space between a product and its packaging that serves no specified purpose. The California Attorney General appealed a permanent injunction banning enforcement of that prohibition against a producer of heat-and-serve meat and poultry products. Continue reading »

Ninth Circuit Reinstates 'Natural' Labeling Class Suit Against Hain Celestial Baler v. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., 640 Fed. Appx. 694 (9th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016)

The Ninth Circuit held that a consumer's definition of "natural" as alleged in the complaint is sufficient for the court's determination of the sufficiency of the pleading with respect to a motion to dismiss. In Balser, putative class action plaintiffs filed suit against the Hain Celestial Group, Inc., accusing Hain of deceptive advertising due to the use of the word "natural" on its products. After the lower court granted Hain's motion to dismiss, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with the following notable findings. Continue reading »

California Court Prevents Second Bite at the Apple Yogurt Torrent v. Yakult U.S.A., Inc., No.8:15 -cv-00124-CJC-JCG (C.D. Cal., Mar. 7, 2016)

A California court once again held that plaintiff Nicolas Torrent does not have standing to force yogurt manufacturer, Yakult USA, Inc., to change its labeling/advertisements. Torrent brought a putative class action on behalf of California purchasers of Yakult, a yogurt drink. Plaintiff alleged that Yakult's marketing claims about digestive health benefits associated with its yogurt drink were false and likely to deceive reasonable consumers. Torrent filed a motion for class certification under Rule 23(b)(1)(A) and (b)(2). On January 7, 2016, the district court denied plaintiff's motion, determining that he lacked standing to pursue the injunctive relief sought. The district court held that plaintiff lacked standing to bring such a class action because he would not suffer any future harm. See Torrent v. Yakult U.S.A., Inc., No. 8:15-cv-00124-CJC-JCG, 2016 WL 4844106...

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