Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kline v. Iovate Health Sciences U.S.A. Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 24, 2017

RONALD PATRICK KLINE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
IOVATE HEALTH SCIENCES U.S.A., INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 20] WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          Hon. M. James Lorenz United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the first amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiffs filed an opposition and Defendant replied. The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L. R. 7.1 (d)(1). For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES in part and GRANTS in part Defendant's motion. Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ronald Patrick Kline and Yamil Caraballo (“Plaintiffs”) are residents of California and New York, respectively. (Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiffs filed this putative class action alleging false advertising under California state law along with other California and New York state consumer protection claims. Iovate Health Sciences U.S.A., Inc. (“Iovate” or “Defendant”) is a Delaware corporation that manufactures a variety of protein powder products. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         Plaintiffs allege violations of state and federal laws that prohibit nonfunctional slack-fill in packaging. Under federal law, “[s]lack-fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein.” 21 C.F.R. § 100.100(a). “Nonfunctional slack-fill is the empty space in a package that is filled to less than its capacity for reasons other than” specified in the statute. Id. A package containing nonfunctional slack-fill is misleading if consumers are unable to fully view the contents. Id. A food is misbranded “if its container is so made, formed, or filled as to be misleading.” Id. § 100.100. Under California's slack-fill statute, no container should be constructed or filled “as to facilitate the perpetration of deception or fraud.” Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 12606(a). A container is “misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack fill, ” which is “empty space in a package that is filled to substantially less than its capacity for reasons other than” those specified in the statute. Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 12606(b).

         According to the complaint, Iovate intentionally packages its products in opaque containers comprised of more than 40% empty space to mislead consumers. (Compl. ¶ 1.) If Plaintiffs had known about the slack-fill at the time of purchase, they would not have bought the products. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs claim there is no functional reason for the slack-fill contained in Iovate's products. (Id. ¶ 28.) They contend the empty space is nonfunctional slack-fill in violation of both C.F.R. §100.100 and Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §12606.

         Plaintiffs assert five causes of action: (1) violation of California's False Advertising Law (“FAL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq.; (2) violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq.; (3) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.; (4) violation of New York Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”), New York Gen. Bus. Law § 349; and (5) negligent misrepresentation. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is warranted where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Serv., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents a cognizable legal theory, yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).

         In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and construe them most favorably to the nonmoving party. Huynh v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 465 F.3d 992, 997, 999 n.3 (9th Cir. 2006). Even if doubtful in fact, factual allegations are assumed to be true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Id. at 556 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). On the other hand, legal conclusions need not be taken as true merely because they are couched as factual allegations. Id. at 55; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009).

         Generally, the Court does not “require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Instead, the allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Thus, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will … be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “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. at 678. “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.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In support of dismissal, Defendant initially argues Plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that the slack-fill contained in the packaging is nonfunctional, and that the Court cannot reasonably infer that Defendant systematically and intentionally packaged its products with nonfunctional slack-fill. The Court disagrees. Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged there is no functional reason for including more than 40% slack-fill in the protein product packages.

         A. False Advertising Law and Consumers Legal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.