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Garrett v. Bumble Bee Foods, LLC

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

October 16, 2014

PATRICK GARRETT, JEFF MAINS, and LINDA EUSTICE, individually and on behalf of herself of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
BUMBLE BEE FOODS, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND AND DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Motion to Remand filed by Plaintiffs Patrick Garrett, Jeff Mains, and Linda Eustice ("Plaintiffs"), ECF No. 18 ("Mot."), and the Motion to Dismiss, or, Alternatively, Motion to Stay filed by Defendant Bumble Bee Foods, LLC ("Bumble Bee"), ECF No. 14. The Court finds these motions suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b) and hereby VACATES the motion hearing and the Case Management Conference set for October 30, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand and DENIES as moot Bumble Bee's Motion to Dismiss, or, Alternatively, Motion to Stay.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Bumble Bee, a Delaware corporation with principal place of business in San Diego, California, is "a leading producer of retail seafood products" that sells "to consumers through grocery and other retail stores throughout the United States and California." Ex. A to ECF No. 1, Class Action Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 19. Plaintiffs are California consumers who "care about the nutritional content of food and seek to maintain a healthy diet." Id. ¶¶ 16-18, 76. They claim to have purchased at least $25 worth of Bumble Bee's allegedly misbranded food products during the past six years. Id. ¶¶ 16-18.

The challenged Bumble Bee products have labels indicating that they are an "Excellent Source of Omega 3" and endorsed by the American Heart Association. Compl. ¶¶ 22, 41. These labeling claims, Plaintiffs allege, constitute unlawful, false, and misleading statements about Bumble Bee products. Id. ¶¶ 6-13. The standards for evaluating Bumble Bee's labeling claims are set forth in regulations promulgated under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FDCA"), 21 U.S.C. § 301 et seq., which California law has adopted in toto. Id. ¶¶ 6, 10-11; see Bruton v. Gerber Prods. Co., 961 F.Supp.2d 1062, 1080 (N.D. Cal. 2013) ("Through the Sherman Law, California has expressly adopted the federal labeling requirements as its own."). Plaintiffs therefore contend that Bumble Bee's products are "misbranded" under California law. Compl. ¶ 12.

In particular, Plaintiffs allege the following causes of action, all of which arise under California law: (1) violation of the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., for unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business acts and practices (first, second, and third counts); (2) violation of the Fair Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq., for misleading, deceptive, and untrue advertising (fourth and fifth counts); (3) violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq. (sixth count); (4) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability (seventh count); (5) negligent misrepresentation (eighth count); (6) negligence (ninth count); (7) unjust enrichment (tenth count); (8) recovery in assumpsit of funds paid for misbranded products (eleventh count); and declaratory relief (twelfth count). Compl. ¶¶ 98-197.

B. Previous Litigation: Ogden v. Bumble Bee Foods , No. 12-CV-01828-LHK

On April 12, 2012, Plaintiffs' counsel, on behalf of Tricia Ogden ("Ogden") and a putative class of nationwide consumers, filed a class action lawsuit against Bumble Bee in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. ECF No. 1, Ex. 2 to Decl. of Robert B. Bader ("Ogden MSJ Order") at 9. Before this very Court, Ogden asserted similar UCL, FAL, and CLRA claims to those that Plaintiffs now bring. See id. at 8-9. In addition, Ogden alleged violations of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1790 et seq., and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., Ogden's sole federal claim. Ogden MSJ Order at 9. Ogden moved for class certification on May 9, 2013, and Bumble Bee moved for summary judgment on August 29, 2013. Id.

On January 2, 2014, the Court granted in part and denied in part Bumble Bee's Motion for Summary Judgment. Ogden MSJ Order at 33-34. As relevant here, the Court granted summary judgment as to Ogden's claims for damages, concluding that Ogden had failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that she was entitled to restitution under the UCL, FAL, and CLRA, or disgorgement under the UCL and FAL. Id. at 26-29. The Court did find, however, that Ogden was entitled to pursue injunctive relief. Id. at 29-30. Furthermore, the Court granted summary judgment on Ogden's sole federal claim, holding that it "fail[ed] as a matter of law." Id. at 30-31. With no remaining federal claim to support subject matter jurisdiction, the Court noted that "it retain[ed] jurisdiction under... the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)." Id. at 31 n.18.

Ogden subsequently withdrew her Motion for Class Certification, and both parties stipulated to a voluntary dismissal with prejudice. ECF No. 26 ("Opp'n") at 2. On March 10, 2014, the Court entered judgment in favor of Bumble Bee. Compl. at 2 n.1.

C. Current Litigation: Garrett v. Bumble Bee Foods , No. 14-CV-02546-LHK

On April 25, 2014, six weeks after the Ogden litigation had ended, Plaintiffs' counsel filed the instant class action lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Compl. at 1. This time, the putative class was limited to California consumers only. Id. at 2. Bumble Bee filed a notice seeking to remove the case to federal court on June 3, 2014. ECF No. 1.

Bumble Bee filed a Motion to Dismiss, or, Alternatively, Motion to Stay on June 10, 2014. ECF No. 14. Plaintiffs opposed that motion on August 1, 2014, ECF No. 24, and ...


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