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Latiff v. Nestle USA, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 19, 2019

JENNIFER LATIFF, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NESTLE USA, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE [14]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Nestle USA, Inc.’s (“Defendant”), Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Jennifer Latiff’s Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 12(b)(6). (Mot. to Dismiss (“Mot.”) 1, ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff brings this putative class action against Defendant under FRCP 23(a), (b)(2), and (b)(3). (Compl. ¶ 34, ECF No. 1.) For the following reasons, Defendant’s Motion is DENIED.[1]

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, a resident of Oxnard, California, alleges that she purchased “one or more” of Defendant’s products labeled with its “No GMO Ingredients” seal in Oxnard and Ventura during the class period. (Compl. ¶¶ 20, 22–24.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Federal Trade Commission guidelines by creating its own deceptive seal that was affixed to products which falsely represented that the product is certified as non GMO by a neutral, third party, when in fact the seal was the work of Defendant itself.” (Compl. ¶ 7.) By creating its own seal that mimics the Non-GMO Project’s seal, Plaintiff argues that Defendant misrepresented its products to consumers as having been certified by a neutral third party. (Compl. ¶¶ 6–8.) Furthermore, many of Defendant’s products are allegedly derived from GMOs. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Defendant’s “No GMO Ingredients” seal allegedly violates the Non-GMO Project standard, which prohibits use of its seal on “products that could be from animals fed GMO feed.” (Compl. ¶ 12.) As a result, Plaintiff argues that Defendant averts the Non-GMO Project’s strict standard by using its self-created seal. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

         On July 27, 2018, Plaintiff initiated this action, individually and on behalf of the class, against Defendant for violating the California Unfair Competition Law, California False Advertising Law, and California Consumers Legal Remedies Act. (See generally Compl.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint generally must satisfy only the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2).” Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). Rule 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). For a complaint to sufficiently state a claim, its “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Dismissal under a 12(b)(6) motion can be based on “the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To overcome a 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). The plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. 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 of relief.” Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). A court “may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially [pleaded].” Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th Cir. 1992). A liberal reading cannot cure the absence of such facts. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

         When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, a court is generally limited to considering material within the pleadings and must construe “[a]ll factual allegations set forth in the complaint . . . as true and . . . in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff].” Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 1996)). A court is not, however, “required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         In addition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, Defendant requests that the Court take judicial notice of several documents. (See generally Req. for Judicial Notice (“RJN”), ECF No. 15.) Accordingly, the Court will address whether judicial notice is appropriate before turning to the merits of Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.

         A. Request for Judicial Notice

         Although a court is generally limited to the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it may consider documents incorporated by reference in the complaint or properly subject to judicial notice without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Lee, 250 F.3d at 688–89. Federal Rule of Evidence 201 provides: “[t]he court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it: (1) is generally known within the trial court’s territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). Courts may take judicial notice of government documents and public records. See Peruta v. Cty. of San Diego, 678 F.Supp.2d 1046, 1054 n.8 (S.D. Cal. 2010) (stating that courts may properly take judicial notice of undisputed documents appearing on governmental websites).

         In support of its Motion to Dismiss, Defendant requests that the Court take judicial notice of the following exhibits attached to the Declaration of Dale J. ...


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