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Khasin v. The Hershey Co.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

May 5, 2014

LEON KHASIN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE HERSHEY COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [RE: DOCKET ITEM NO. 68]

EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is the Hershey Company's ("Hershey" or "Defendant") Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 68. Plaintiff Leon Khasin ("Plaintiff") filed this putative class action against Defendant alleging that several of Defendant's products have been improperly labeled so as to amount to misbranding and deception in violation of several California and federal laws.

Per Civ. L.R. 7-1(b), the motion was taken under submission without oral argument. Having fully reviewed the parties' papers, the Court grants Defendant's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in this case on April 13, 2012. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("AC") was filed on July 23, 2012. Dkt. No. 27. This Court granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the AC in part on November 9, 2012. Dkt. No. 45. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims predicated on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Song-Beverly Act. The Court found that Plaintiff satisfied the UCL's injury-in-fact requirement because he alleged that he relied on Defendant's allegedly misleading conduct in purchasing certain products. After the Court's order, the following causes of action remained: violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., (counts 1-3); violation of the False Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq., (counts 4-5); violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq., (count 6); and unjust enrichment/quasi-contract (count 7). Defendant filed the present Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on June 14, 2013. Dkt. No. 68.

Plaintiff is a California consumer who, since 2008, purchased more than $25.00 of Defendant's products, including Special Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Special Dark Kisses, Special Dark Cocoa, Natural Unsweetened Cocoa, and Sugar Free Coolmint IceBreaker Mints. Dkt. No. 27 ¶ 19, 196. Plaintiff argues that the following representations on the packaging of these and other of Defendant's food products were unlawful and/or misleading: (1) antioxidant nutrient content claims, (2) nutrient content claims without required disclosures, (3) healthy diet claims, (4) sugar free claims, (5) unlawful serving sizes, (6) listing polyglycerol polyricinoleic acid as "PGPR", and (7) failing to disclose vanillin. Plaintiff's AC alleges that he read the labels on Defendant's products, relied on these claims when making purchasing decisions, and was misled by these claims. Dkt. No. 27 ¶ 60, 197-99.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment should be granted if "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc. , 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying the portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

If the moving party meets this initial burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and designate specific materials in the record to show that there is a genuinely disputed fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex , 477 U.S. at 324. The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

However, the mere suggestion that facts are in controversy, as well as conclusory or speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers, is not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. See Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. GTE Corp. , 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir. 1979). Instead, the non-moving party must come forward with admissible evidence to satisfy the burden. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Feiner & Co., Inc. , 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990).

A genuine issue for trial exists if the non-moving party presents evidence from which a reasonable jury, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to that party, could resolve the material issue in his or her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Barlow v. Ground , 943 F.2d 1132, 1134-36 (9th Cir. 1991). Conversely, summary judgment must be granted where a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex , 477 U.S. at 322.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that summary judgment should be granted as to Plaintiff's claims against Defendant's website, advertising, and labeling statements on which he did not actually rely. Plaintiff counters that a dispositive motion cannot be decided prior to a ruling on class ...


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