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In Re: Pom Wonderful LLC Marketing and Sales Practices

September 28, 2012

IN RE: POM WONDERFUL LLC MARKETING AND SALES PRACTICES LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

O

ORDER CERTIFYING CLASS

[Dkt. No. 75]

Presently before the court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. Having considered the submissions of the parties and heard oral argument, the court grants the motion and adopts the following order.

I. Background

Defendant POM Wonderful LLC ("Pom") produces pomegranate juice products. (Master Consolidated Complaint ("MCC") at 4 ¶ 4.) Pom's advertisements claim that Pom juice products have a variety of health-related benefits, and that these health claims are supported by tens of millions of dollars in medical research. (MCC at 4 ¶¶ 5-10.) Plaintiffs allege that Pom's claims are false and/or misleading. (See, e.g. MCC ¶ 11.) Plaintiffs therefore brought this purported class action, alleging violations of 1) California's False Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq., 2) California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Civ. Code § 17200, et seq., and 3) California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, et seq.. Plaintiffs now move to certify a nationwide class comprised of all persons who, between October 2005 and September 2010, purchased one or more Pom Wonderful 100% juice products, excluding Pom, its subsidiaries, parents, divisions, affiliates, officers, and directors.

II. Legal Standard

The party seeking class certification bears the burden of showing that each of the four requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least one of the requirements of Rule 23(b) are met. See Hanon v. Dataprods. Corp., 976 F.2d 497, 508-09 (9th Cir. 1992). Rule 23(a) sets forth four prerequisites for class certification:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a); Hanon, 976 F.2d at 508. These four requirements are often referred to as numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy. See Gen. Tel. Co. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 156 (1982). "In determining the propriety of a class action, the question is not whether the plaintiff has stated a cause of action or will prevail on the merits, but rather whether the requirements of Rule 23 are met." Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 178 (1974) (internal quotation and citations omitted). This court, therefore, considers the merits of the underlying claim to the extent that the merits overlap with the Rule 23(a) requirements, but will not conduct a "mini-trial" or determine at this stage whether Plaintiffs could actually prevail. Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657 F.3d 970, 981, 983 n.8 (9th Cir. 2011).

III. Discussion

A. FRCP 23(b)(3)

Under Rule 23(b)(3), a plaintiff seeking to certify a class must show that questions of law or fact common to the members of the class "predominate over any questions affecting only individual members and that a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy." Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3).

1. Predominance of Law Pom asserts that the proposed class cannot be certified because California law cannot be applied to consumers nationwide. (Opp. at 12.) Although Pom does not frame it as such, this argument poses a challenge to Plaintiffs' showing under Rule 23(b)(3) that a common issue of law predominates. ...


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