United States District Court, S.D. California
CHRISTINA WEBB, on behalf of herself, all others similarly situated, and the general public, Plaintiff,
TRADER JOE'S COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS [DOC. NO. 9]
Cathy Ann Bencivengo, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings. [Doc. No. 9.] The motion has been
fully briefed and the Court finds it suitable for
determination on the papers submitted and without oral
argument. See S.D. Cal. CivLR 7.1(d)(1). For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.
Christina Webb filed this putative consumer class action
complaint against Defendant Trader Joe's in the Superior
Court of California, County of San Diego, on July 10, 2019
[Doc. No. 1-2], and Defendant removed the action to this
Court on August 23, 2019. [Doc. No. 1.] The complaint asserts
claims for violation of California's Consumer Legal
Remedies Act (“CLRA”), California Civil Code
§ 1750 et seq.; violation of California's
Unfair Competition Law (the “UCL”), California
Business & Professions Code § 17200 et
seq.; violation of California's False Advertising
Law (the “FAL”), California Business &
Professions Code § 17500 et seq.; Breach of
Express and Implied Warranties; Theft by False Pretenses; and
Unjust Enrichment/Money Had and Received. [Doc. No. 1-2 at
markets, sells, and distributes a variety of Trader Joe's
branded raw poultry products, including the “All
Natural Boneless Chicken Breasts, ” “All Natural
Chicken Thighs, ” and “All Natural Chicken
Wings” (the “Products.”). [Id. at
¶ 6.] According to the complaint, the Products are false
and misleading because the Products claim to contain up to 5%
retained water when they actually contain far greater amounts
of retained water (as much as 16%) for which California
consumers are unlawfully charged. [Id. at ¶ 7.]
Plaintiff alleges she purchased the Products from several
Trader Joe's locations in San Diego County, California,
which contained excess retained water above the amount the
Products declared and therefore Plaintiff paid more for the
products than they were worth. [Id. at ¶ 12.]
After sampling and analyzing Products offered for sale at
supermarkets in Northern California, Plaintiff found that the
Products were routinely economically adulterated with excess
retained water far greater than that declared on the Product
labels. [Id. at ¶ 13.]
seeks to represent a Nationwide class and California
sub-class of consumers who purchased the Products during the
class period. [Id. at ¶¶ 118, 119.] The
complaint's prayer for relief requests, among other
things, an order enjoining Defendant to cease packaging,
advertising, and selling the Products; re-label or recall all
existing Products; conduct a corrective advertising campaign;
and an award of restitution and damages for Plaintiff and the
class. [Id. at ¶ 15.]
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), any party may move for
judgment on the pleadings at any time after the pleadings are
closed but within such time as not to delay the trial.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings
must be evaluated under the same standard applicable to
motions to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6). See Enron
Oil Trading & Trans. Co. v. Walbrook Ins. Co., Ltd.,
132 F.3d 526, 529 (9th Cir. 1997). Thus, the standard
articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009), and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007) applies to a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Lowden v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 378 Fed.Appx. 693, 694
(9th Cir. 2010) (“To survive a Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c) motion, a plaintiff must allege ‘enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face'” (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
544)). When deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
the Court assumes the allegations in the complaint are true
and construes them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro v. Lerner,
31 F.3d 924, 928 (9th Cir. 1994). A judgment on the pleadings
is appropriate when, even if all the allegations in the
complaint are true, the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Milne ex rel. Coyne v. Stephen
Slesinger, Inc., 430 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2005).
Supremacy Clause of the Constitution empowers Congress to
make federal laws that preempt state law. Von Saher v.
Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954,
960 (9th Cir. 2010). “Federal preemption occurs when:
(1) Congress enacts a statute that explicitly preempts state
law; (2) state law actually conflicts with federal law; or
(3) federal law occupies a legislative field to such an
extent that it is reasonable to conclude that Congress left
no room for state regulation in that field.” Chae
v. SLM Corp., 593 F.3d 936, 941 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Tocher v. City of Santa Ana, 219 F.3d 1040, 1045
(9th Cir. 2000), abrogated on other grounds)). Federal
preemption can be either express or implied. See Fid.
Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. de la Cuesta, 458 U.S.
141, 152-53 (1982). Express preemption exists when a statute
explicitly addresses preemption. See Chicanos Por La
Causa, Inc. v. Napolitano, 558 F.3d 856, 863 (9th Cir.
court's preemption analysis is guided by two principles.
“First, there is a presumption against supplanting
‘the historic police powers of the States' by
federal legislation ‘unless that [is] the clear and
manifest purpose of Congress.'” Gordon v.
Virtumundo, Inc., 575 F.3d 1040, 1060 (9th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Medtronic v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470, 485
(1996)). As a result, express preemption clauses should be
narrowly construed. Gordon, 575 F.3d at 1060.
Second, Congress's purpose “‘is the ultimate
touchstone in every preemption case.'”
Gordon, 575 F.3d at 1060 (quoting
Medtronic, 518 U.S. at 485). Thus, courts must
analyze the language of the statute and the overall statutory
scheme. Gordon, 575 F.3d at 1060.
REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE
motion to dismiss stage a court may consider materials
incorporated into the complaint or matters of public record,
without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for
summary judgment. Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg., 593
F.3d 1031, 1038 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted); see
also Federal Rules of Evidence 201(b): “The court
may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to
reasonable dispute because it: (1) is generally known within
the trial court's ...