Federal Court Retains Jurisdiction over “All-Natural” Claims Against Frito-Lay
A federal court in Arkansas has ruled that it has jurisdiction, pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal standing decision under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013), to adjudicate the putative class claims filed by a woman who alleges that Frito-Lay deceives consumers by labeling its Tostitos® and SunChips® products as “All Natural” because they contain genetically modified corn and hexane-extracted soybean oil. Deaton v. Frito-Lay N. Am., Inc., No. 12-1029 (W.D. Ark., order entered June 5, 2013).
At issue was whether the defendants had submitted sufficient evidence to show that the amount in controversy exceeded CAFA’s $5 million jurisdictional minimum. The plaintiff had stipulated that she would not seek more than $5 million to keep the lawsuit in state court, but conceded that her stipulation could not prevent removal under the Knowles decision. The court ruled that the defendants carried their burden, noting that “a fact-finder could easily conclude that Frito-Lay’s supplier/retailer sales of over $5 million for both 2010 and 2011 translated to over $5 million in individual consumer sales during the same period. And this amount does not even take into consideration Plaintiff’s claims for restitution.”