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Cortina v. Wal-Mart, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 20, 2015

THAMAR SANTISTEBAN CORTINA, on behalf of herself, all others similarly situated, and the general public, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART, INC., Defendant.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DEYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS; AND (2) TERMINATING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE [ECFs 32, 33]

CYNTHIA BASHANT, District Judge.

This class action lawsuit against Defendant Wal-Mart, Inc. began on September 3, 2013. ECF 1. Plaintiff Thamar Cortina alleged that Defendant's coenzyme Q10 supplement, sold under its "Equate" brand, was deceptively advertised under various common law and statutory provisions. Defendant moved to dismiss, and the Court granted that motion without prejudice. ECF 26.

In response, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). ECF 29. Defendant moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint. ECF 32.

The Court finds the motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF 32).

I. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

"[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (alteration in original). A court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Despite the deference the court must pay to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

Generally, courts may not consider material outside the complaint when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). However, documents specifically identified in the complaint whose authenticity is not questioned by parties may also be considered. Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078, 1080 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995) (superceded by statutes on other grounds). Moreover, the court may consider the full text of those documents, even when the complaint quotes only selected portions. Id. It may also consider material properly subject to judicial notice without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. 1994).

As a general rule, a court freely grants leave to amend a complaint which has been dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). However, leave to amend may be denied when "the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency." Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standing

For a suit to proceed in Federal courts, the parties must establish U.S. Constitutional standing. U.S. Const. art. III, ยง 2. In its motion to dismiss, Defendant challenges Plaintiff's standing because Plaintiff could not allege an injury without alleging she consumed the Equate supplement that she bought in reliance on the claims made on its packaging. However, the sale itself caused an economic injury-in-fact, and therefore this Court has standing to adjudicate the controversy. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 103 (1998). Accordingly, the Court DENIES IN PART the motions to dismiss insofar as it is based on a challenge to Plaintiff's standing.

B. Choice of Law

In the previous Order granting Defendant's motion to dismiss, this Court found "California's interest in protecting customers in this state outweighs Arkansas' interests." Order Granting Mot. to Dismiss 6, ECF 26 ("Order"). Therefore this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claim for relief under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices ...


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