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Refusing to certify the class, a California federal court has granted a partial motion to dismiss in a putative class action alleging that Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. mislabels its “100% Juice” products as “No Sugar Added” despite adding fruit juice from concentrate. Major v. Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., No. 12-3067 (N.D. Cal., order entered February 26, 2015). The plaintiff argued that adding the concentrate and labeling the products “No Sugar Added” violates California law, which prohibits use of that phrase on food “containing added sugars such as jam, jelly, or concentrated fruit juice.” Instead, she asserted, Ocean Spray must include the disclaimer that their products are not low-calorie foods. Ocean Spray argued that the plaintiff did not rely on the “No Sugar Added” label when purchasing the products, and the court agreed, pointing to a deposition in which the plaintiff admitted that calorie content was not a motivating factor in…

A Florida federal court has dismissed a case alleging that Campbell Soup Co. misleadingly labeled its V8 V-Fusion® Pomegranate Blueberry and Acai Mixed Berry products as “100% juice” in a way that implied they contained only the flavoring juices rather than a base mix of fruit and vegetable juices. Bell v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 14-291 (N.D. Fla., order entered December 11, 2014). The plaintiff argued that the label was misleading because the “100% juice” statement appeared so close to the flavor name on the label, but after examining each labeling statement, the court disagreed. “[W]hen a product’s flavor comes from a juice that is not the primary ingredient, the name may include the flavoring juice, without including other juices, so long as the label includes the statement ‘that the named juice is present as a flavoring.’ [T]he flavor—in this instance pomegranate and blueberry—must be ‘followed by the word ‘flavored’ in…

A California federal court has denied certification to a putative class action alleging that Mott’s misleadingly labeled its apple juice as having “No Sugar Added” because the plaintiff failed to provide a feasible model for calculating damages. Rahman v. Mott’s LLP, No. 13-3482 (N.D. Cal., order entered December 3, 2014). The court further refused to certify a liability class, finding it would not materially advance resolution of the case. The court first assessed the proposed class definition. It found that the plaintiff and the proposed class met the requirements of numerosity, ascertainability, commonality, and adequacy; in addition, the court rejected the juice company’s argument that the plaintiff was atypical because he is a Type 2 diabetic who closely reads nutrition labels. The court then discussed whether the plaintiff established that “the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that…

After a California federal court certified the class for liability but not for damages, the parties to a class action alleging that Jamba Juice mislabeled its smoothie kits as “all natural” despite containing synthetic ingredients like gelatin and xanthan gum have reached a settlement. Lilly v. Jamba Juice Co., No. 13-2998 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., plaintiffs’ motion for settlement approval filed December 1, 2014). Under the proposed settlement agreement, Jamba Juice will remove “all natural” from its smoothie kit labeling and advertising by March 2015. The agreement will remain in force until the smoothie kits no longer contain the allegedly unnatural ingredients or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies the ingredients as natural. The plaintiffs’ attorneys will also receive $425,000 in costs and fees. Additional information about the class certification appears in Issue 539 of this Update.   Issue 547

A California federal court has certified a statewide liability class in a lawsuit accusing Jamba Juice of labeling its home smoothie kits as “all natural” despite containing five synthetic ingredients—ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, steviol glycosides, modified corn starch, and gelatin—but it refused to certify the class for damages. Lilly v. Jamba Juice Co., No. 13-2998 (N.D. Cal., order entered September 18, 2014). The court dismissed Jamba Juice’s argument that the class was unascertainable because no purchase records existed for the kits, finding that such an approach would “have significant negative ramifications for the ability to obtain redress for consumer injuries.” The court agreed, however, with Jamba Juice’s proposition that the plaintiffs could not provide a plausible class-wide damages model, because they did not show “any evidence, expert reports, or even detailed explanation about how those damages models can be fairly determined or at least estimated.” See Bloomberg BNA, September 19, 2014.…

A federal court in New Jersey has denied the motion to dismiss filed by MonaVie, Inc. in consumer-fraud litigation involving its juice products, finding that the first amended putative class-action complaint was sufficiently pleaded. Pontrelli v. MonaVie, Inc., No. 13-4649 (D.N.J., decided August 19, 2014). Attached to the complaint was a MonaVie brochure that included a number of claims about the curative health benefits of the açai berry, as well as purported customer testimonials. The plaintiff claimed that she relied on such representations, did not receive the advertised benefits and would not have purchased the products if she had known that the representations were false. The complaint also alleged that consumers are willing to pay an inflated price for the products—$40 for a 25-ounce bottle—based on the advertised health benefits. The plaintiff also alleged that the company knows its claims are false and that the juice products will not cure any…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has informed the CEO of Campbell Soup Co. that it will seek injunctive and monetary relief if the company continues to (i) “mislead consumers about the juice content, nutritional value, and healthfulness of its Products”; (ii) “represent that its V8 V-Fusion Refreshers contain no added sugars”; and (iii) mak[e] deceptive nutrient content claims on its V8 Splash Products in violation of United States Food and Drug Administration’s (‘FDA’) Fortification rule.” At issue are products from the V8 V-Fusion Refreshers (20-25% juice) variety of the V8 V-Fusion product line and the entire line of V8 Splash juice drink products, including V8 Splash (5-10% juice), Diet V8 Splash (8% juice) and V8 Splash Smoothies (10% juice). CSPI characterizes these products as “sugary juice cocktails.” According to CSPI, the marketing and labeling for these products are confusingly similar to V8 100 percent juice products…

University of Pittsburgh and Purdue University researchers have purportedly found that pomegranate juice (PJ) heightened neurodegeneration in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) by increasing nigrostriatal terminal depletion, dopamine neuron loss, the inflammatory response, and caspase activation. Victor Tapias, et al., “Pomegranate Juice Exacerbates Oxidative Stress and Nigrostriatal Degeneration in Parkinson’s Disease,” Neurobiology of Aging, May 2014. Designed to examine the beverage’s potential neuroprotective effects, the study instead suggested that the polyphenols present in pomegranate juice exacerbated the nigrostriatal degeneration of rats with a rotenone-induced syndrome similar to PD. “Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of different types of polyphenols to attenuate or block neuronal death in animal models of neurodegeneration,” reported the study’s authors. “Although differences between PD models could explain a lack of beneficial efficacy of PJ in the rotenone model, the question remains as to why PJ would exacerbate rotenone toxicity—similarly to melatonin. A possible answer could…

A federal court in California has denied the motion to dismiss putative class claims that Mott’s LLP deceives consumers by placing “No Sugar Added” on its 100% Apple Juice label. Rahman v. Mott’s LLP, No. 13-3482 (N.D. Cal., order entered April 8, 2014). Information about the court’s prior decision dismissing without prejudice most of the claims in the plaintiff’s first amended complaint appears in Issue 511 of this Update. As to the plaintiff’s second amended complaint, the court disagreed with the defendant’s argument that an ongoing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rulemaking pertaining to Nutrition Facts label disclosures about the presence or absence of added sugars required dismissal of the action under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. While the court agreed that food regulation is within FDA’s purview, it stated, “plaintiff’s claims do not concern statements made on the apple juice’s Nutrition Facts label; rather, plaintiff’s claims relate to nutrient…

A federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) court in California has granted POM Wonderful’s motion to decertify a class of claimants alleging that they were misled by health-benefit representations for the company’s pomegranate juice. In re POM Wonderful LLC Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2199 (C.D. Cal., order entered March 25, 2014). Details about the motion appear in Issue 516 of this Update. According to a news source, the court found that (i) the plaintiffs’ two damages models failed to support a class action, and (ii) claims that consumers allegedly paid an inflated price for the company’s juice failed to explain how the company’s health-benefit representations caused damage. As to the practical effects of proceeding as a class action, the court reportedly stated, “Here, Plaintiffs acknowledge that, based on the volume of product sold, every adult in the United States is a potential class member. These millions of consumers paid…

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