United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR STRIKE
MAXINE M. CHESNEY, District Judge.
Before the Court is defendant Triple Leaf Tea, Inc.'s "Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Complaint, " filed May 16, 2014. Plaintiff Eunice Johnson has filed opposition, to which defendant has replied. Having read and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, the Court rules as follows.
Plaintiff, a California resident, alleges that while she was "in the Kansas City, Missouri area, " she purchased "for approximately $3.00" a product marketed by defendant, specifically, "Dieter's Green, " an herbal tea, and that she did so in reliance on assertedly false and misleading statements on the packaging. (See Compl. ¶¶ 7, 9, 21.)
First, plaintiff alleges that although Dieter's Green "contain[s] no weight loss ingredients or fat burners" (see Compl. ¶ 17), the name Dieter's Green "misleads consumers to believe [the] product has ingredients to help one diet or lose weight" (see Compl. ¶ 53.a).
Second, plaintiff alleges that a statement on the front of the package, "Traditional Herbal Support While Dieting" (see Compl. ¶¶ 12, 56), is deceptive because "Senna, " the "predominate ingredient, " is "not effective in weight loss and may have an opposite effect and cause bloating and cramping" (see Compl. ¶ 56).
Third, plaintiff alleges that another statement on the front of the package, "Helps Promote Cleansing, " is "misleading in that it makes the [tea] seem as though it has ingredients that will help to flush the body of toxins, when in reality it is predominantly comprised of two laxative ingredients" (see Compl. ¶ 57), specifically, "senna leaf" (see Compl. ¶ 14) and "Chinese mallow, referred to by [d]efendant [on the package] as Whorled mallow leaf'" (see Compl. ¶ 40).
Fourth, plaintiff alleges that a statement on the bottom of the package, "[t]he Chinese system of herbology has been recorded in ancient texts which are studied and employed even today, " is misleading because "even if Senna and Chinese Mallow are described in ancient texts, ' their combination was not described for the purposes [d]efendant is selling the [tea]." (See Compl. ¶ 59.)
Lastly, plaintiff alleges the packaging is misleading because it "conceal[s] the dangers of Senna use" (see Compl. ¶ 63), which "can actually thwart weight loss by slowing the metabolism and causing chronic bloating and constipation" (see Compl. ¶ 16),  and, in addition, "does not warn [consumers] against the dangers of Chinese mallow" (see Compl. ¶ 68), "which may cause heart palpitations, fatigue and muscle spasms" (see Compl. ¶ 66), as well as "significant drops in serum blood sugar levels" (see Compl. ¶ 67).
In sum, plaintiff alleges the above-referenced representations are false and misleading because Dieter's Green "does not provide the advertised benefits but is, in fact, a laxative" (see Compl. ¶ 22), such that "any weight lost by the user is temporary and attributable to loss of fecal material" (see Compl. ¶ 78).
Based on said allegations, plaintiff brings five causes of action on her own behalf and on behalf of a putative class. In the First Cause of Action, plaintiff alleges the challenged statements are misleading and thus violate the Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750-1784. In the Second Cause of Action, plaintiff alleges the challenged statements are unlawful, unfair and fraudulent in violation of § 17200 of the California Business & Professions Code. In the Third Cause of Action, plaintiff alleges the challenged statements constitute false advertising and thus violate § 17500 of the Business & Professions Code. In the Fourth and Fifth Causes of Action, plaintiff alleges defendant breached, respectively, express and implied warranties it assertedly made on the packaging.
Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Rule 8(a)(2), however, "requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Consequently, "a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations." See id. Nonetheless, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." See id. (internal quotation, citation, and alteration omitted).
In analyzing a motion to dismiss, a district court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan , 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual material, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]" Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. Courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." See Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation and citation omitted).
Defendant argues plaintiff lacks standing to assert the claims in her complaint and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and, consequently, that the complaint must be dismissed or, alternatively, that certain allegations should be stricken.
A. Article III Standing
To establish "Article III standing, " a plaintiff must have "suffered an injury in fact" that is "fairly traceable to the challenged conduct" and is "likely to be redressed by a favorable decision." See Mazza v. American Honda Motor Co. , 666 F.3d ...