A federal court in Alabama has dismissed breach of contract and warranty
claims filed against a company that makes Florida Natural® orange juice and
markets it as “fresh,” “100%” or “pure,” finding that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the claims on behalf of a putative class of purchasers. Veal v. Citrus World, Inc., No. 12-801 (N.D. Ala., decided January 8, 2013).

The court refused to allow the plaintiff to amend his complaint for a fourth time on the grounds that no amendment can cure its deficiencies and bad faith. According to the court, “This is plaintiff’s counsel’s fourth attempt (not counting the arguments before the MDL [multidistrict litigation] panel) to pursue a class action against defendant based on the same inherently flawed theory of liability. Upon not being included as class counsel in the MDL, plaintiff’s counsel returned here and went shopping for plaintiffs in an attempt to manufacture a claim which could survive a motion to dismiss.”

The court determined that the plaintiff lacked standing because he alleged
no actual or concrete injury. In this regard, the court noted, “Here, the plaintiff
alleges that his injury was the actual purchase of orange juice. However,
he does not explain how buying packaged orange juice, when he wanted
packaged orange juice, injured him.” The court also observed, “despite
plaintiff’s protestations that he did not receive the product he believed he
was purchasing, he makes no allegation that he has stopped purchasing what
he considers to be an inferior product in favor of purchasing what he actually
sought, which is apparently unpasteurized fresh squeezed orange juice.”
The court also found that injunctive relief would not redress the plaintiff’s
purported injury, because “[h]e does not allege how he will suffer a future
injury, or even to what extent he has suffered a past injury by purchasing
packaged orange juice from a store which was, in fact, not fresh squeezed
orange juice.”

The court concluded, “the fact that the plaintiff may have believed defendant hired individuals to hand squeeze fresh oranges one by one into juice cartons, then boxed up and delivered the same all over the country does not translate into a concrete injury to plaintiff upon his learning that beliefs about commercially grown and produced orange juice were incorrect.”

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.