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Bruton v. Gerber Prods. Co.

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

December 18, 2014

NATALIA BRUTON, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GERBER PRODUCTS COMPANY, Defendant

For Natalia Bruton, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Ben F. Pierce Gore, LEAD ATTORNEY, Pratt & Associates, San Jose, CA; Brian K Herrington, PRO HAC VICE, Don Barrett, P.A., Lexington, MS; David Shelton, David Shelton, PLLC, Oxford, MS.

For Gerber Products Company, Defendant: Bryan Alexander Merryman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rachel J Feldman, White and Case LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

LUCY H. KOH, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Natalia Bruton (" Bruton") has brought the instant lawsuit against Gerber Products Company (" Gerber"), alleging that Gerber violated state law by making unlawful and misleading claims on its food product labels. Before the Court are Bruton's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, ECF No. 140 (" Bruton MSJ"), and Gerber's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 141 (" Gerber MSJ"). Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court hereby DENIES Bruton's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and GRANTS Gerber's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Gerber, a private corporation with principal place of business in Fremont, Michigan, claims to be " the world's most trusted name in baby food, " and reportedly controls between seventy and eighty percent of the baby food market in the United States. Second Amended Complaint (" SAC"), ECF No. 62 ¶ ¶ 21, 27. Gerber packages and sells retail food products, such as puree baby food, snacks, yogurts, side dishes, and beverages, specifically intended for infants and children under two years of age. Id. ¶ 28. Gerber organizes its products by " stages, " including: " Birth, " " Supported Sitter, " " Sitter, " " Crawler, " " Toddler, " and " Preschooler." Id. All of the Gerber product categories other than " Preschooler" describe children under two years of age. Id.

Bruton is a California resident who is " concerned about the nutritional content of the food she purchase[s] for her child's consumption." SAC ¶ ¶ 20, 81. At various times within the past several years, Bruton allegedly purchased many of Gerber's food products that are intended for children under the age of two. Id. ¶ ¶ 20, 82. Specifically, Bruton purchased the following products (" Purchased Products"):

(1) Gerber Nature Select 2nd Foods Fruit--Banana Plum Grape;
(2) Gerber Nature Select 2nd Foods Fruit--Apples and Cherries;
(3) Gerber Nature Select 2nd Foods Vegetables--Carrots;
(4) Gerber Nature Select 2nd Foods Spoonable Smoothies--Mango;
(5) Gerber Nature Select 2nd Foods Vegetables--Sweet Potatoes & Corn;
(6) Gerber Organic SmartNourish 2nd Foods--Banana Raspberry Oatmeal;
(7) Gerber Organic SmartNourish 2nd Foods--Butternut Squash & Harvest Apple with Mixed Grains; and
(8) Gerber Organic SmartNourish 2nd Foods--Farmer's Market Vegetable Blend with Mixed Grains.

See Stipulated Chart of Products at Issue in This Case (" Chart"), Ex. A. to ECF No. 117 at 1-3. In addition to bringing claims regarding the Purchased Products, Bruton also asserts claims related to dozens of additional products that Bruton alleges make similar label misrepresentations and violate the same federal and California labeling laws. SAC ¶ 3. Bruton refers to these additional products as the " Substantially Similar Products." Id.; see also Chart at 1-4.

Before purchasing Gerber's products for her child, Bruton allegedly read and relied on Gerber's labels, which she contends are " misbranded." SAC ¶ ¶ 7, 17, 83. At the point of sale, Bruton contends that she " did not know, and had no reason to know, that Gerber's products were misbranded" and " would not have bought the products had she known the truth about them." Id. ΒΆ 86. Bruton alleges that Gerber made, and continues to make, two types of unlawful and deceptive claims on ...


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