Topic: Consumer class actions

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Specific jurisdiction ruling gives companies a new weapon in combatting mass consumer actions

On June 19, 2017, the United States Supreme Court limited the ability of plaintiffs to pursue mass consumer actions in state court. In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court limited personal jurisdiction over corporations in state courts on due process grounds, holding that persons purportedly injured outside of the forum state did … Continue reading

Your product labels could be deceptive based on what’s on a competitor’s labels

In what seems to be an ever-expanding zone of liability for false advertising claims on food products, the Ninth Circuit ruled this week that “external facts” – aka what a competitor does or does not put on their labels – can make the labels of another product misleading by implication. In Bruton v. Gerber, plaintiff … Continue reading

ALERT: Merchants face new wave of class actions alleging excessive shipping charges

Recently filed complaints seemingly forecast a new type of class action in California courts: consumer protection claims based on allegations that merchants are overcharging consumers for shipping and delivery charges. Such claims have the potential to affect all companies selling consumer goods online or by mail order. Even though there is no specific statute forbidding … Continue reading

Do California 998 settlement offers have legs in class actions?

If you litigate in California, chances are you have come across the CCP 998 settlement offer. Presenting the proverbial “carrot and stick,” 998 offers force plaintiffs to effectively “bet”  on their success in a case. If a plaintiff refuses a 998 settlement offer, their ability to recover costs and attorneys’ fees (if available) will be … Continue reading

Discount class action theories broaden in California

The plaintiffs’ bar has a new angle on retailer discounting cases, which attack California retailers who discount merchandise by showing an “original” or “former” price next to a much lower, discounted price to imply tremendous savings. Initially, plaintiffs relied on California’s False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act to allege … Continue reading

Second Circuit guts jury verdict with post-trial decertification

Given the low probability that a class action will go to trial and the high probability that a settlement favorable to plaintiffs and their attorneys will be reached after class certification, there is a consistent “race to certification” in many consumer class action matters. The plaintiffs’ bar frequently frames claims with an eye towards meeting … Continue reading

FDA says evaporated cane juice labels are false and misleading

On Wednesday, the FDA issued guidance on the use of the phrase “evaporated cane juice” in order to “enhance consumers’ ability to make informed choices among sweeteners by promoting accurate and consistent labeling.” In an opinion that will have far-reaching implications in the food industry, the FDA concluded that “the term ‘evaporated cane juice’ is false or … Continue reading

Southern District of California rejects medical sling class bid

Sometimes, although it seems like not very often, California courts do find that consumer fraud cases are not appropriate for class certification. Take, for example, the decision that came down last week out of the Southern District of California. In Mezzadri v. Drive Medical, plaintiff claimed that defendant misrepresented the quality and the materials used … Continue reading

Chobani motion to dismiss unceremoniously vacated

Last month, the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion scant on explanation, vacated the order of Judge Koh in the Northern District of California dismissing false advertising class action claims Chobani, LLC, the maker of Chobani Greek Yogurt. The class action alleged that Chobani falsely advertised its yogurt in two ways: 1) by referring to the sweetener … Continue reading

Coca-Cola requires proof of purchase to pay out class settlement for juice false ad suit

Last week, Coca-Cola reached a settlement in a consumer class action alleging that it falsely advertised its Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices by creating the impression it was made primarily of pomegranate and blueberry juices, when it was actually composed mostly of cheaper apple and grape juices. These allegations by … Continue reading

Ninth Circuit reverses dismissal of another consumer class action against Hain Celestial

In what is becoming a bit of a pattern, the Ninth Circuit has again ruled that a lower court’s dismissal of a consumer class action against The Hain Celestial Group was the wrong result. On December 5, 2013, Judge Manuel Real dismissed without leave to amend claims by Alessandra Balser and Ruth Kresha that Hain … Continue reading

UPDATE: Seventh Circuit ascertainability holding petitioned to the Supreme Court

We previously reported on the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Mullins v. Direct Digital, LLC, in which the Court systematically refuted every policy argument made to support holdings like the Third Circuit’s opinion in Carrera, requiring a plaintiff to demonstrate that class members can be identified through a reliable and administratively feasible manner in order to … Continue reading

Seventh Circuit intensifies ascertainability split

Last month, the Seventh Circuit further added to the tension between the circuits regarding the interpretation and application of Rule 23(f)’s shadow ascertainability requirement. As we previously reported, we await a ruling in the Ninth Circuit on this issue; it is almost certain that this recent opinion will now be added to the mix affecting … Continue reading

UPDATE: Bill to amend California’s “Made in USA” law gets one step closer to becoming law

Following up on our recent post about two bills pending in the California legislature that would amend California’s “Made in USA” law—yesterday the Assembly passed SB 633.  Next, SB 633 will be sent back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and assuming the Senate approves, the bill would then go on to the Governor’s … Continue reading

Changes coming to California’s “Made in USA” law?

California’s “Made in the USA” law imposes strict standards on when products may be labeled “Made in the USA.”  This strict standard has resulted in recent litigation against companies whose products allegedly contain some (albeit relatively minor) foreign components.  But, the Legislature is seeking to amend the law to loosen this standard with two pending … Continue reading

Court rules California “Made In USA” claims not actionable if only on product websites

We have been following California’s “Made in the USA” standard and recent cases interpreting it. While courts so far have been reluctant to dismiss claims at the pleading stage, last week a federal judge dismissed a class action claiming Lands’ End violated California’s “Made in the USA” standard. In Oxina v. Lands’ End, Inc., plaintiff filed a false … Continue reading

Supreme Court will determine whether class action plaintiffs can be bought off

The Supreme Court has granted cert to decide whether or not class action defendants can make the claims of named plaintiffs invalid by offering early settlements. This practice, known as “mooting” an action or the “pick-off” strategy, occurs when, prior to class certification, a defendant offers a class representative a full settlement, completely covering any … Continue reading

California Court of Appeal finally issues guidance to retailers on privacy issue for credit card customers

California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, Civil Code section 1747.08, prohibits retailers from requesting or requiring “personal identification information” (PII) in connection with consumer credit card transactions and then recording that information.  Following a February 2011 California Supreme Court opinion in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., plaintiffs filed hundreds of putative class action complaints against retailers … Continue reading

Bourbon need not be “made by hand” to be advertised as “handmade”

Proving that a false advertising claim can be thrown out on a motion to dismiss (despite recent cases in California indicating the contrary), a Florida federal judge tossed false advertising claims brought against Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc., determining that consumers could not possibly interpret the phrase “handmade” – used to market the company’s bourbon whiskey … Continue reading

Plaintiffs’ attorneys told to “get real” with fee award request

Although false advertising class action law in California is generally (and accurately) perceived as bending over backwards to advantage plaintiffs, recent fee award decisions may make plaintiffs’ lawyers more wary about bringing lawsuits that are not slam dunk victories. This week, Judge George H. Wu out of the Central District of California slammed plaintiff attorneys by awarding … Continue reading

California’s Made In USA standard survives another test in court

Another court in the Southern District of California has agreed that California’s Made in USA law is more stringent than the federal standard, holding that the law is not preempted by the Federal Trade Commission Act or the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act.  But the court also addressed a new claim—that the California law violates … Continue reading

Ninth Circuit says “not so fast” for Hain Celestial dismissal

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit reversed a holding by the District Court for Southern District of California dismissing “All Natural” false advertising claims against Hain Celestial cosmetics because they were barred by the primary jurisdiction doctrine. The Court stated that dismissal of the claims was the improper result, even if the FDA did have primary … Continue reading

Ninth Circuit says manifestation of a defect does not matter at the pleading stage

Last month, the Ninth Circuit held that a district court in the Western District of Washington erred by striking class allegations from a complaint because a product defect did not manifest in the vast majority of products purchased. District Court Strikes Class Allegations From Complaint In the case, several named plaintiffs filed a class action … Continue reading
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