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Rahman v. Mott's LLP

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 3, 2014

MOHAMMED RAHMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MOTT'S LLP, Defendant

For Mohammed Rahman, individually, and on behalf of other members of the general public similarly situated, Plaintiff: Jordan L. Lurie, Robert Kenneth Friedl, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Cody Robert Padgett, Capstone Law APC, Los Angeles, CA; Tarek H. Zohdy, Capstone Lawyers, APC, Los Angeles, CA.

For Mott's LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership, Defendant: Kevin Marshall Sadler, LEAD ATTORNEY, Baker Botts L.L.P., Palo Alto, CA; Ryan Lee Bangert, Van H. Beckwith, Baker Botts L.L.P., Dallas, TX.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION Re: Dkt. Nos. 75, 84

SUSAN ILLSTON, United States District Judge.

Now before the Court is plaintiff Rahman's motion for class certification and defendant Motts' motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration, both scheduled for hearing on December 5, 2014. Docket Nos. 75, 84. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that this matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES plaintiff's motion to certify the class, and DENIES defendant's motion to reconsider.

I. Procedural Background

This is a consumer class action. Defendant Mott's is the manufacturer of various food products containing the statement " No Sugar Added" on their labels and/or packaging. Docket No. 48, Second Amended Complaint (" SAC") ¶ ¶ 1-2, 6. Plaintiff Mohammed Rahman alleges that the use of the statement " No Sugar Added" on Mott's 100% Apple Juice does not comply with applicable Food and Drug Administration (" FDA") regulations, specifically 21 C.F.R. § 101.60(c)(2). Id. ¶ ¶ 2, 8-12.

Plaintiff further alleges that defendant's failure to comply with the FDA regulations violates California's Sherman Law (" Sherman Law"), California Health and Safety Code § 109875 et seq. Id. ¶ ¶ 2, 13-16. Plaintiff alleges that he purchased Mott's Original 100% Apple Juice after reading and relying on the product's " No Sugar Added" labeling and after observing that a competitor's 100% apple juice did not contain a " No Sugar Added" claim. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff alleges that he would not have purchased as much of the product as he did if it did not contain the " No Sugar Added" label. Id. ¶ 59.

On June 13, 2013, plaintiff filed a class action complaint in San Francisco County Superior Court against defendants Mott's and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (" Dr. Pepper"). Docket No. 1-1, Compl. ¶ ¶ 67-76. On July 26, 2013, defendants removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), based on the Class Action Fairness Act (" CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Docket No. 1, Notice of Removal. On August 30, 2013, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Dr. Pepper. Docket No. 21. On August 30, 2013, defendant Mott's filed a motion to dismiss, Docket No. 22, and on September 30, 2013, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint (" FAC"), mooting the motion to dismiss. Docket No. 29. Defendant Mott's then moved to dismiss the FAC, Docket No. 31, and on January 29, 2014, the Court granted the motion in part, with leave to amend. Docket No. 46.

On February 24, 2014, plaintiff filed a second amended class action complaint (" SAC"), alleging causes of action for: (1) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (" UCL"), California Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq; (2) violation of California's False Advertising Law (" FAL"), California Business and Professions Code § 17500 et seq; (3) violation of California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act (" CLRA"), California Civil Code § 1750 et seq; (4) negligent misrepresentation; and (5) breach of quasi-contract. Docket No. 48, SAC. Mott's moved to dismiss the SAC, Docket. No. 49, and on April 8, 2014, the Court denied the motion. Docket No. 54. On August 12, 2014, Mott's moved for summary judgment. Docket No. 68. On October 15, 2014, the Court largely held in Mott's favor, denying summary judgment only as to plaintiff's cause of action under the UCL's unlawful prong and for breach of quasi-contract.

Now before the Court is plaintiff's motion for class certification, and defendant's motion to reconsider the issue of restitution damages in the Court's summary judgment order. Docket Nos. 75, 84.

II. Plaintiff's Mislabeling Allegations

All of Rahman's claims are premised on his contention that, by including " No Sugar Added" on the product label, Mott's 100% Apple Juice is mislabeled under California's Sherman Law and FDA regulations. FAC ¶ ¶ 55, 63-64, 76-78, 85, 90. California's Sherman Law broadly prohibits the misbranding of food. Farm Raised Salmon Cases, 42 Cal.4th 1077, 1086, 72 Cal.Rptr.3d 112, 175 P.3d 1170 (2008) (citing Cal. Health & Safety Code § 110765). The Sherman Law incorporates all food labeling regulations and any amendments to those regulations adopted pursuant to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (" FDCA") as the food labeling regulations of California. Id. at 1087; Cal. Health & Safety Code § 110100(a); see also Cal. Health & Safety Code § § 110665, 110670. The relevant FDCA labeling regulation, 21 C.F.R. § 101.60(c)(2), provides:

The terms " no added sugar, " " without added sugar, " or " no sugar added" may be used only if:
(i) No amount of sugars, as defined in § 101.9(c)(6)(ii), or any other ingredient that contains sugars that functionally substitute for added sugars is added during processing or packaging; and
(ii) The product does not contain an ingredient containing added sugars such as jam, jelly, or concentrated fruit juice; and
(iii) The sugars content has not been increased above the amount present in the ingredients by some means such as the use of enzymes, except where the intended functional effect of the process is not to increase the sugars content of a food, and a functionally insignificant increase in sugars results; and
(iv) The food that it resembles and for which it substitutes normally contains added sugars; and
(v) The product bears a statement that the food is not " low calorie" or " calorie reduced" (unless the food meets the requirements for a " low" or " reduced calorie" food) and that directs consumers' attention to the nutrition panel for further information on sugar and calorie content.

Plaintiff alleges that Mott's fails to comply with section 101.60(c)(2)(v) because Mott's 100% Apple Juice does not state on its labels that it is not " low calorie" or " calorie reduced, " as defined by 21 C.F.R. § § 101.60(b)(2)(i)(A) and 101.60(b)(4)(i). SAC ¶ 12. Plaintiff further alleges that Mott's fails to comply with section 101.60(c)(2)(iv) because Mott's 100% Apple ...


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