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Collazo v. Wen By Chaz Dean, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 17, 2015

CARYN COLLAZO; KYM HALL; CINDY PETERSON; CAROL SAUER; KRIS THORSEN MICHELS; and AMANDA TAPSCOTT, Plaintiffs,
v.
WEN BY CHAZ DEAN, INC.; GUTHY-RENKER LTD.; GUTHY-RENKER PARTNERS, INC.; and GUTHY-RENKER LLC, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [23]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants WEN by Chaz Dean, Inc., Guthy-Renker Ltd., Guthy-Renker Partners, Inc., and Guthy-Renker LLC. (ECF No. 23.) In their putative Class Action Complaint, Plaintiffs Caryn Collazo, Kym Hall, Cindy Peterson, Carol Sauer, Kris Thorsen Michels, and Amanda Tapscott (collectively "Plaintiffs") allege six causes of action, including violations of two California consumer protection statutes. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants now move to dismiss both consumer protection causes of action on grounds that an extra-territorial application of the laws is improper and the claims were not plead with the proper specificity under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9. For the reasons discussed below WEN's motion is DENIED.[1]

I. BACKGROUND

"WEN by Chaz Dean" is a hair care product line developed by Los Angeles-based hair stylist, Chaz Dean, in collaboration with Guthy-Renker, a large direct-marketing company. (Compl. ¶ 26.) WEN products are primarily distributed through direct marketing techniques, including infomercials, television ads, magazine ads, QVC, and the WEN website. (Id. ¶ 26.) Defendant Wen by Chaz Dean, Inc. is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Santa Monica, California. (Id. ¶ 20.) Defendants Guthy-Renker, Ltd., Guthy-Renker Partners, Inc., and Guthy-Renker LLC are Delaware corporations with their principal place of business in Santa Monica, California. (Id. ¶¶ 21-22.)

In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that they purchased WEN hair care products after viewing Defendants' various advertisements, which consisted of an "extensive marketing campaign, including the use of ubiquitous infomercials and television advertising with celebrity testimonials, the Internet and widely circulated popular style and fashion magazines." (Id. ¶¶ 6, 46-51.) Defendants advertised that WEN products would leave "their hair smoother, shinier, stronger, fuller, more manageable with no frizz" and that the products would also "limit or repair damage as a result of other hair treatments." (Id. ¶ 2.) However, each Plaintiff alleges "extreme hair loss and damage" after using the products "as instructed." (Id. ¶¶ 46-51.) Plaintiffs claim that "one or more of [WEN] products acts as a depilatory or caustic agent, " that damages the hair strand and/or follicle, and that Defendants failed to disclose and properly warn Plaintiffs of this hazardous ingredient. (Id. ¶¶ 2-4.) Plaintiffs contend that Defendants knew or should have known of WEN's hazards, but they "continued to conceal the dangers of the products" and continued to claim that WEN products were "safe when properly applied." (Id. ¶ 4.)

Plaintiffs make numerous allegations that WEN, Chaz Dean, and Guthy-Renker misrepresent the ingredients, safety, and effects of their products. (Id. ¶¶ 63-80.) Specifically, Plaintiffs point to allegedly false and misleading statements found on Chaz Dean's, Guthy-Renker's, and WEN's websites. Chaz Dean's website states: "[Chaz Dean] believes in a natural, healthy lifestyle... dedicate[ed] to harmony and holistic methods." (Id. ¶ 24.) WEN's website states: "WEN isn't like an ordinary shampoo so you want to use more of it, not less. You can never use too much! The more you use, the better the results." (Id. ¶ 27.) The website continues: "[WEN] cleanses hair thoroughly without lathering or harsh ingredients. It's designed not to strip your hair and scalp of natural oils, leaving your hair with more strength, moisture, manageability and better color retention." (Id. ) WEN's website allegedly states that "WEN has no harsh ingredients...." (Id. ¶ 29.) Guthy-Renker's website states: "[Guthy-Renker] is one of the largest and most respected direct marketing companies in the world" and "since 1988 has discovered and developed dozens of well-loved, high quality consumer products in the beauty, skincare, entertainment and wellness categories." (Id. ¶ 26.)

Plaintiffs argue that Defendants' representations continued to "perpetuate and create a false public perception that there was little or no risk from the use of [WEN products], " thus violating the California's consumer protection laws. (Id. ¶ 11.) Each Plaintiff hails from a different state: (1) Caryn Collazo is a citizen of Florida; (2) Kym Hall's a citizen of New Jersey; (3) Kris Thorsen Michels is a citizen of Hawaii; (4) Cindy Peterson is a citizen of Minnesota; (5) Carol Sauer is a citizen of North Carolina; and (6) Amanda Tapscott is a resident of Indiana. (Id. ¶¶ 14-19.)

The Complaint, which was filed on March 17, 2015, raises six causes of action: (1) breach of warranty; (2) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq.; (3) violation of California's False Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17500 et seq.; (4) failure to warn negligence; (5) failure to test negligence; and (6) strict product liability. ( See ECF No. 1.) Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on May 26, 2015. (ECF No. 23.) Defendants' Motion seeks to dismiss Plaintiffs' UCL and FAL causes of action. Plaintiffs filed a timely Opposition on June 22, 2015 (ECF No. 30), and Defendants a timely Reply on June 29, 2015 (ECF No. 33).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss an action for failure to allege "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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted). For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court "accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s] the pleading in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008).

The Court is not required to "assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Mere "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "If a complaint is accompanied by attached documents, the court is not limited by the allegations contained in the complaint. These documents are part of the complaint and may be considered in determining whether the plaintiff can prove any set of facts in support of the claim." Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal ...


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