A federal court in California has granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss filed in a putative class action against Whole Foods Market. Pratt v. Whole Foods Mkt. Cal., Inc., No. 12-5652 (N.D. Cal., order entered March 31, 2014).

The claims relate to a number of 365 Everyday Value® products that the plaintiff purchased and involve the following allegedly unlawful or misleading label representations: “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ), “natural” and “no sugar added.” Because the plaintiff abandoned in his amended complaint all claims regarding the defendants’ whipped topping product, the court dismissed all claims based on this product with prejudice as to the plaintiff and without prejudice as to any putative class member. The “no sugar added” claims were thus dismissed, “as the only product alleged to have such a misleading claim was the whipped topping.” The court also emphasized that, per its August 2013 order, any claims as to unpurchased items were dismissed with prejudice as to the plaintiff and ordered these claims to be stricken from the amended complaint; the court further stated that they may not be re-alleged in any future amended complaint.

The court refused to find the remaining claims preempted or subject to dismissal under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. The court disagreed with the plaintiff that he did not need to plead reliance under the “unlawful prong” of the Unfair Competition Law and further found that the ECJ claim was not sufficiently pleaded. And while the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for unjust enrichment, agreeing with those courts finding it duplicative of his statutory claims, it will allow the plaintiff to amend the complaint as to ECJ and unjust enrichment.


Issue 519

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