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Sunny Johansson, Susan Cedeno, William Shelby v. Central Garden & Pet Company; and Farnham Companies

December 2, 2010

SUNNY JOHANSSON, SUSAN CEDENO, WILLIAM SHELBY, KYNDELL WALSH, AND KATHY AINSLEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CENTRAL GARDEN & PET COMPANY; AND FARNHAM COMPANIES, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maria-Elena James Chief United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER

(DKT. #9)

COURT OURT 13

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant Central Garden & Pet Company and Defendant Farnham Companies, Inc.'s ("Defendants") motion to transfer or alternatively, to dismiss, Plaintiffs' Sunny Johansson, Susan Cedeno, William Shelby, Kyndell Walsh, and Kathy Ainsley ("Plaintiffs") class action complaint. (Dkt. #9.) The Court held a hearing on the matter on December 2, 2010. Based on the parties papers and oral arguments, relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the Court ORDERS as follows.

For the Northern District of California For the Northern District of California

C C

ISTRICT ISTRICT

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TATES TATES

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NITED NITED

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II. BACKGROUND

The following pertinent background facts are taken from Plaintiffs' complaint. (Dkt. #1.)

Plaintiffs initiated this putative class action against Defendants, manufacturers of certain flea and tick products meant for use on household pets. While the products in some cases were effective in killing fleas and ticks, they also sickened and sometimes killed the animals upon which they were used. Each named plaintiff details the harmful effects that Defendants' products had on their cat or dog.

Plaintiffs allege that the symptoms suffered by their companion animals are consistent with "Pyrethrin, Pyrethoids and/or Permethrin poisoning, which is the active ingredient in the flea and 28 tick control products at issue here." Defendants' products are known to contain this chemical, and are sold under names including "Biospot" and "Spot-On" flea and tick products, and perhaps other 2 product names. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have known for many years that the chemicals they use will substantially injure or kill significant numbers of cats and dogs.

Defendants have reported to the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") a sharp increase in the adverse consequences of their products. On May 5, 2009, as a result, the EPA issued an advisory that pet owners should be aware of the adverse reactions pets may experience to "spot-on" flea and tick control medication, recommending that pet owners take careful precaution when using the products. The Center for Public Integrity issued a similar report questioning the safety of such products. persons who purchased flea-control products manufactured or marketed by defendants containing Plaintiffs allege the following causes of action: (1) violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200 ("UCL"); (2) Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability; (3) violation of 15 the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et seq.; (4) Strict Product Liability; (5)violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code section 1750, et seq.; and (6) a cause of action for punitive damages. Plaintiff Johannson is a California citizen, while the other named Plaintiffs are scattered across the country.

Defendants filed their motion to transfer on October 22, 2010. (Dkt. #9.) On November 11, 2010, Plaintiffs filed an opposition (Dkt. #18), and on November 18, 2010, Defendants filed a reply Plaintiffs bring the instant action with the following preliminary class definition: "All Pyrethrin or Pyrethroids including Permethrin within the applicable statute of limitations period."

COURT

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ISTRICT

D

For the Northern District of California

TATES

NITED

S

(Dkt. #24).

defendants on behalf of the same purported class on a similar basis in the United States District Defendants argue that the instant action is an attempt to duplicate and split class claims being 27 litigated elsewhere, and that transfer to the District of New Jersey is thus appropriate. Id. at 1:26-27.

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III. DISCUSSION

In their motion, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' counsel is already suing the same Court in New Jersey ("Snyder action" or "New Jersey action"). (Defs.' Mot. 1:22-25, Dkt. #9.)

In the alternative, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed. Id. at 2:2-11.

Defendants to remove their dangerous products from the market, although they will also attempt to 4 recover the economic losses they have incurred. (Pls.' Opp'n 1:18-25, Dkt. #18.) Plaintiffs maintain that the present case and the Snyder action differ in that in the instant action, Plaintiffs assert California claims on behalf of a nationwide class and alternatively, a California class, while the Snyder action asserts New Jersey and Illinois state-law claims on behalf of a nationwide class.

In response, Plaintiffs contend that their primary objective in the California action is to force Id. at 2:2-7. Plaintiffs argue that this action does not present the same issues as the Snyder action, 9 does not seek the same remedies, and does not seek certification of any overlapping issues. Id. at 2:8-12. Regarding Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs contend that none of Defendants' arguments are outcome determinative and thus, that the motion should be denied. Id. at 2:14-16.

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides that a district court may transfer a civil action to any other district in which the action could have been brought, if convenient to the parties and witnesses and 15 in the interests of justice. The determination to transfer lies within the discretion of the trial court.

A. Legal Standard

For the Northern District of California

COURT

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ISTRICT

...


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