Plaintiff Denied Class Certification for Third Time in Tropicana Suit
A New Jersey federal court has denied class certification to a plaintiff challenging Tropicana’s marketing representations of its juice as “pure” and “natural.” In re Tropicana Orange Juice Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. 11-7382 (D.N.J., entered June 19, 2019). The court first denied certification for a New York class because the plaintiff only purchased Tropicana in California, then it turned to the requirement of predominance. “Plaintiff has not demonstrated that a uniform misrepresentation was made to the class sufficient to satisfy predominance as to the ‘100% pure and natural orange juice,’ ‘100% pure,’ ‘100% natural,’ ‘100% juice’ ‘fresh,’ ‘grove to glass,’ ‘squeezed from fresh oranges,’ ‘straight-from-the-orange,’ and Orange/Straw labels,” the court found. “[T]he Court would be required to perform an individualized inquiry into each product purchased to determine what combinations of labels were visible before determining whether that combination is deceiving to a reasonable consumer. These variations are the poster child for lack of predominance.” The court did find a uniform representation for Tropicana’s claim that its orange juice was “pasteurized,” however, so it moved onto materiality.
“There is scant evidence in the record regarding reasonable customers’ understanding of the ‘pasteurized’ label and whether it was likely to deceive a reasonable consumer,” the court found. “Even [the plaintiff] during her deposition had difficulty articulating what she understood ‘pasteurized’ to mean.” Accordingly, the court held that the representation was not material and thus did not establish that a common issue predominated for the proposed class.