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Astiana v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 10, 2015

SKYE ASTIANA; TAMAR DAVIS LARSEN, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE HAIN CELESTIAL GROUP, INC., a Delaware corporation; JASON NATURAL PRODUCTS, INC., a California corporation, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California February 10, 2015

Page 754

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 755

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 4:11-cv-06342-PJH. Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief District Judge, Presiding.

REVERSED and REMANDED.

SUMMARY [*]

Preemption / Primary Jurisdiction / Food and Drug Administration

The panel reversed the district court's Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) dismissal of a quasi-contract cause of action, and dismissal of California state law claims under the primary jurisdiction doctrine in a putative nationwide class action claiming that the class members were deceived into purchasing " natural" cosmetics.

Primary jurisdiction is a prudential doctrine that permits courts to determine whether a claim implicates technical and policy questions that should first be addressed by an agency with regulatory authority over the relevant industry.

The panel held that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act did not expressly preempt California's state law causes of action that create consumer remedies for false or misleading cosmetics labels. The panel also held that although the district court properly invoked the primary jurisdiction doctrine, it erred by dismissing the case rather than issuing a stay pending potential agency action by the Food and Drug Administration. The panel indicated that on remand, the district court may consider whether events during the pendency of the appeal had changed the calculus on whether further FDA proceedings were necessary. Finally, the panel concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the quasi-contract cause of action as duplicative of, or superfluous to, the putative class's other claims.

Joseph N. Kravec, Jr. (argued) and Wyatt A. Lison, Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec, LLC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Michael D. Braun, Braun Law Group, P.C., Los Angeles, California; Janet Lindner Spielberg, Law Offices of Janet Lindner Spielberg, Los Angeles, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

James M. Schurz (argued) and Lisa A. Wongchenko, Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge and A. Wallace Tashima and M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge McKeown.

OPINION

Page 756

McKEOWN, Circuit Judge:

A product labeled " all natural" or " pure natural" likely evokes images of ground herbs and earth extracts rather than chemicals such as " Polysorbate 20" or " Hydroxycitronellal." This class action alleges that false or misleading product labels duped consumers seeking natural cosmetics into purchasing products that were chock-full of artificial and synthetic ingredients. Although the underlying question of what constitutes a " natural" cosmetic poses a fascinating question, it is not the one we answer. Instead, this appeal requires us to decide whether federal preemption or the primary jurisdiction doctrine prevents the district court from deciding when a " natural" label on cosmetic products is false or misleading.

We conclude that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 301 et seq. (" FDCA" ), does not expressly preempt California's state law causes of action that create consumer remedies for false or misleading cosmetics labels. Although the district court properly invoked the primary jurisdiction doctrine, it erred by dismissing the case rather than issuing a stay pending potential agency action by the Food and Drug Administration (" FDA" ). On remand, the district court may consider whether events during the pendency of this appeal have changed the calculus on whether further FDA proceedings are necessary.

Background

The Hain Celestial Group and JÂ SÖ N Natural Products (collectively " Hain" ) make moisturizing lotion, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and other cosmetics products. Hain labels these products " All Natural," " Pure Natural," or " ...


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