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Amy Jovel, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly v. I-Health

November 8, 2012

AMY JOVEL, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
I-HEALTH, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



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

I. BACKGROUND

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER AND VACATING MOTION TO DISMISS

[Dkts. No. 16 & 17]

Defendant i-Health develops, markets and distributes dietary supplements under the BrainStrong brand. (Parris Decl. ¶ 2.) Defendant is incorporated in Delaware, with its main offices located in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Parris Decl. ¶ 3.) The scientific team that helped research and develop the BrainStrong products is located in Columbia, Maryland. (Parris Decl. ¶ 4.) BrainStrong dietary supplements are fortified with highly processed fermented algae. (Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") ¶ 1). The four dietary supplements under the BrainStrong brand are (1) BrainStrong Prenatal, (2) BrainStrong Toddler, (3) BrainStrong Kids, and (4) BrainStrong Adults.

(SAC n.1.) This action focuses on three of the four products: BrainStrong Toddlers, BrainStrong Kids, and BrainStrong Adults (the "Products"). (SAC ¶ 12.)

In December 2011, Plaintiff Amy Jovel ("Jovel") purchased one box of BrainStrong Kids from a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles. (SAC ¶ 10.) Prior to the purchase, Jovel saw Defendant's advertisements claiming that the Products support brain health in adults and children. (SAC ¶ 10.) She also read the product label reaffirming the advertised claims. (SAC ¶ 10.) Relying on these claims, Jovel purchased BrainStrong Kids for her daughter, paying approximately $15. (SAC ¶ 10.)

Jovel gave the product to her daughter as directed, and but found

that the BrainStrong Kids product did not support brain health as represented. (SAC ¶ 10.) She alleges that Defendant has conveyed the message to consumers in a nationwide marketing campaign that its Products provide an essential DHA algal oil daily supplement that "supports brain health and function in children and adults." (SAC ¶ 14.) Plaintiff claims that the front and back panels of every product package emphasize the DHA algal oil and its ability to support brain health. (SAC ¶¶ 20-21.) The BrainStrong Toddlers and Kids packaging states that the product "[s]upports brain development and function," while the Adult packaging states that the product is "clinically shown to improve memory," "naturally supports mental clarity" and "helps protect against normal cognitive decline." (SAC ¶ 1.) Defendant has employed numerous methods to convey its uniform brain health representations to consumers via the "BrainStrong" name, the Defendant's website, online and print materials, and the prominent statements on the Products' packaging. (SAC ¶ 3.)

Jovel originally filed this action in Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County on March 16, 2012, asserting claims on behalf of a putative class of California consumers. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 1.) On March 27, 2012, Michael Yee ("Yee"), represented by different counsel, filed a similar complaint in the Eastern District of New York, Yee v. i-Health ("the Yee action"), Case No. CV12-1504. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 2.) The Yee action asserted claims on behalf of a putative nationwide class. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 2.) Once i-Health's counsel became aware of the similar complaints, i-Health's counsel asked the counsel for Yee and Jovel to agree to combine their two cases into a single venue. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 3.) Counsel for i-Health state that their intention was to remove the Jovel action to federal court so as to bring both actions before the same court in a motion to transfer. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 6.) Jovel's counsel then amended the Complaint in order to assert claims on behalf of a nationwide class. (Hawk Decl. ¶ 5.) On July 31, 2012, the Yee action was voluntarily dismissed, and on August 10, 2012, counsel for the Yee action formally associated with counsel for Jovel.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). As a threshold matter, the court must first determine if venue in the requested district would have been proper. If so, the court must consider "the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and interest of justice." E. & J. Gallo Winery v. F. & P. S.p.A. , 899 F. Supp. 465, 466 (E.D. Cal. 1994).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Proper Venue

The court first considers whether this suit could have been brought in the Eastern District of New York and finds that this threshold question has been met. Venue in a diversity action is proper in (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) "a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated," or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal ...


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