Court Refuses to Certify Class Alleging Mott’s False Advertising
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 a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” Mott’s argued that the plaintiff could not show that all potential class members relied on the “No Sugar Added” label in the same “idiosyncratic” way that he did, but the court rejected the argument as inapposite. It instead found that restitution would “likely involve demonstrating what portion of the sale price was attributable to the value consumers placed on the ‘No Sugar Added’ statement. Plaintiff has failed to show predominance as to damages because he has introduced no evidence showing that restitution ‘damages [can] feasibly and efficiently be calculated once the common liability questions are adjudicated.’” Accordingly, the court denied class certification. Additional information on the case appears in Issues 511, 520 and 541 of this Update.