United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS
THELTON E. HENDERSON United States District Judge
matter came before the Court on June 1, 2016, on Defendant
Starbucks Corporation's motions to dismiss Plaintiffs
Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles' Class Action
Complaint. Having carefully considered the parties written
and oral arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the
Court now GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's
Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles (collectively
"Plaintiffs") filed their Class Action Complaint
("Compl.") on March 16, 2016, alleging that
Starbucks lattes are underfilled. Docket No. 1. Plaintiffs
allege that "Starbucks represents on its menu that its
Lattes contain ‘12 fl. oz.' for a Tall, ‘16
fl. oz.' for a Grande, and ‘20 fl. oz.' for a
Venti." Compl. ¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege, however,
that "Starbucks Lattes are uniformly underfilled
pursuant to a standardized recipe. Tall Lattes are not 12
fluid ounces, Grande Lattes are not 16 fluid ounces, and
Venti Lattes are not 20 fluid ounces. Starbucks cheats
purchasers by providing less fluid ounces in their Lattes
than represented. In fact, Starbucks Lattes are approximately
25% underfilled." Id. Both Plaintiffs allege
that they purchased "Grande" sized lattes from
Starbucks, and that they would not have purchased the lattes
"on the same terms" if they "had known that
they were not, in fact, 16 fluid ounces." Id.
¶¶ 5, 6.
Complaint, Plaintiffs allege the following eight claims for
relief: (1) Breach of Express Warranty; (2) Breach of the
Implied Warranty of Merchantability; (3) Unjust Enrichment;
(4) Violation of California's Consumers Legal Remedies
Act ("CLRA"); (5) Violation of California's
Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"); (6) Violation of
California's False Advertising Law ("FAL"); (7)
Negligent Misrepresentation; and (8) Fraud.
April 11, 2016, Defendant Starbucks Corporation
("Defendant") moved to dismiss all eight counts, on
the bases of (1) lack of standing under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1); and (2) failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Docket No. 16. Plaintiffs filed a timely opposition
(Docket No. 21), and Defendant timely replied (Docket No.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A party may raise this defense by
filing a motion under Rule 12(b)(1). "A party invoking
federal jurisdiction has the burden of establishing that it
has satisfied the ‘case-or-controversy' requirement
of Article III of the Constitution [and] standing is a
‘core component' of that requirement."
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560
(1992) (citation omitted). "To satisfy Article III's
case or controversy requirement, [a plaintiff] needs to show
that he has suffered an injury in fact, that the injury is
traceable to the challenged action of [the defendant], and
that the injury can be redressed by a favorable
decision." Fortyune v. Am. Multi-Cinema, Inc.,
364 F.3d 1075, 1081 (9th Cir. 2004).
ruling on a motion to dismiss for want of standing, the court
must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint
and construe the complaint in favor of the complaining party.
Lema v. Courtyard Marriott Merced, 873 F.Supp.2d
1264, 1267 (E.D. Cal. 2012) (citing Warth v. Seldin,
422 U.S. 490, 501-02 (1975)).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
is appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
when a plaintiff's allegations fail "to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted." To survive a
motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead "enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). Plausibility does not equate to probability,
but it requires "more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "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."
Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice." Id.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, courts must "accept all
material allegations of fact as true and construe the
complaint in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party." Vasquez v. Los Angeles Cty., 487 F.3d
1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007). However, courts are not
"bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Plaintiffs sufficiently allege Article III standing for
Article III of the United States Constitution, a plaintiff
must show "injury in fact" to have standing in
federal court. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504
U.S. 555, 560 (1992). In Lujan, the United States
Supreme Court held that to establish an injury in fact, a
plaintiff must demonstrate the "invasion of a legally
protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized;
and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or
hypothetical." Id. at 560 (internal quotations
and citations omitted). "Particularized" means
"that the injury must affect the plaintiff in a personal
and individual way." Id. at 560 n.1. Injury in
fact is similarly required to allege statutory standing under
the UCL, FAL and CLRA.
standing challenge is based on the contention that Plaintiffs
fail to sufficiently plead injury in fact, because Plaintiffs
fail to allege that the particular lattes they purchased were
underfilled. Mot. at 18. However, contrary to Defendant's
assertions in briefing and at oral argument, even without
Plaintiffs measuring their own lattes and finding them
lacking, Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged Article III
allege that Starbucks lattes are uniformly underfilled using
three different theories. First, Plaintiffs assert that the
milk foam, which makes up the top layer of the latte, should
not be counted toward the total volume of the latte, because
according to the "food science community" and the
"weights and measures community, " the industry
standard is to let the foam dissipate, or to measure the
drink without the foam. See Compl. ¶ 23.
Second, Plaintiffs allege that lattes at all Starbucks
locations are created using pitchers that have "fill
to" lines that are too low to for the finished product
to conform to Defendant's fluid ounce representations.
See id. ¶ 22. Finally, in the Complaint,
Plaintiffs reproduce a recipe card which is allegedly used by
all Starbucks baristas to make their lattes. Id.
¶ 15. Plaintiffs allege that the last step of the recipe
instructs the barista to "leav[e] at least ...