Wilson v. Frito-Lay North America, Inc. et al

Filing 46

ORDER by Judge Samuel Conti granting in part and denying in part 27 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (sclc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/1/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 10 MARKUS WILSON and DOUG CAMPEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, 11 v. 12 13 FRITO-LAY NORTH AMERICA, INC. and PEPSICO, INC., 14 Defendants. 15 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 12-1586 SC ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT 16 17 18 I. INTRODUCTION 19 Now before the Court is Defendants Frito-Lay North America, 20 Inc. ("Frito-Lay") and PepsiCo, Inc.'s ("PepsiCo") (collectively 21 "Defendants") motion to dismiss Plaintiffs Markus Wilson and Doug 22 Campen's ("Plaintiffs") first amended complaint. 23 ("FAC"), 27 ("MTD"). 24 ("Opp'n"),1 38 ("Reply"), and suitable for decision without oral 25 argument, Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). 26 Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' motion. 27 1 28 ECF Nos. 18 The motion is fully briefed, ECF Nos. 34 For the reasons explained below, the Plaintiffs are instructed to review Civil Local Rule 3-4(c)(2), as the Court will strike portions of future filings that do not adhere to length limits or type size restrictions. 1 II. BACKGROUND 2 The following facts are taken from Plaintiffs' FAC. 3 Defendants are producers of retail food products. 4 Plaintiffs are two California consumers who purchased a variety of 5 Defendants' food products between March 29, 2012 and March 29, 2008 6 (the "Class Period"). 7 "Lay's Classic Potato Chips" and Plaintiff Campen bought "Lay's 8 Classic Potato Chips, Lay's Honey Barbeque Potato Chips, Lay's 9 Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips, Cheetos Puffs, and Fritos Id. ¶¶ 16-17. FAC ¶ 19. Plaintiff Wilson bought United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Original Corn Chips" (collectively the "Named Products"). Id. ¶ 11 17. 12 Defendants during the Class Period, but they do not specify what 13 these other products were. 14 themselves and others similarly situated, filed this putative class 15 action against Defendants, alleging that Defendants' website, 16 advertisements, and products contain deceptive and misleading 17 labeling information, in violation of state and federal law. 18 ¶¶ 1-15. Plaintiffs allege that they bought other food products from See id. Plaintiffs, on behalf of Id. 19 The crucial factual background in this case concerns the 20 specific labeling practices that Plaintiffs claim are misleading.2 21 The only labels actually put before the Court -- described further 22 below -- are two versions of a Lay's Classic Potato Chips bag and 23 labels for the Named Products as they appeared at the time 24 2 25 26 27 28 Defendants filed a Request for Judicial Notice in this matter, per Federal Rule of Evidence 201. ECF No. 28 ("Def.'s RJN"). The Court GRANTS Defendants' request as to Exhibits B-F, per the incorporation by reference doctrine, and DENIES Defendants' request as to Exhibits A and G, because those exhibits are irrelevant per Federal Rule of Evidence 402. The Court notes that Defendants' RJN shows only the labels as they appeared at the time of Defendants' RJN's filing, not the labels as they appeared to Plaintiffs before or at the time of their filing the FAC. 2 1 Defendants filed their RJN. Plaintiffs' allegations that 2 Defendants' labels are misleading and deceptive are based on 3 Defendants' labeling and advertising of their food products (1) as 4 being "All Natural" despite containing artificial or unnatural 5 ingredients, flavoring, coloring, or preservatives; (2) as having 6 "0 Grams Trans Fat" content despite having more than thirteen grams 7 of fat per fifty grams of food product; (3) as having "No MSG" 8 despite containing MSG; (4) as being "low sodium" despite having 9 more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving size and per fifty United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 grams of food product; (5) as being "healthy despite containing 11 disqualifying nutrient levels"; and (6) as including assertions 12 about other unauthorized health claims. 13 See id. ¶ 2. Plaintiffs assert that they "care about the nutritional 14 content of food and seek to maintain a healthy diet." 15 They also allege that they bought Defendants' Named Products and 16 other products throughout the Class Period, that they relied on 17 Defendants' labeling and other statements in making their 18 purchases, and that they would not have purchased Defendants' 19 products had they known the truth about them. 20 150-157. 21 Id. ¶ 149. See, e.g., id. ¶¶ Based on these facts, Plaintiffs assert nine causes of action 22 against Defendants: (1-3) violations of the "unlawful," "unfair," 23 and "fraudulent" prongs of California's Unfair Competition Law's 24 ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.; (4-5) violations 25 of the "misleading and deceptive" and "untrue" prongs of 26 California's False Advertising Law ("FAL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 27 § 17500, et seq.; (6) violations of California's Consumers Legal 28 Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, et seq.; (7) restitution based 3 1 on unjust enrichment or quasi-contract; (8) breach of warranty 2 under California's Song-Beverly Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1790, et 3 seq.; and (9) breach of warranty under the federal Magnuson-Moss 4 Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et seq. 5 6 III. LEGAL STANDARD 7 A. A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 9 Motions to Dismiss 12(b)(6) "tests the legal sufficiency of a claim." Navarro v. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). 11 on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of 12 sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." 13 Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 14 1988). 15 should assume their veracity and then determine whether they 16 plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." 17 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). 18 must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint 19 is inapplicable to legal conclusions. 20 elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory 21 statements, do not suffice." 22 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). 23 generally "limited to the complaint, materials incorporated into 24 the complaint by reference, and matters of which the court may take 25 judicial notice." 26 540 F.3d 1049, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor 27 Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007)). 28 "Dismissal can be based "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court Ashcroft v. However, "the tenet that a court Threadbare recitals of the Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. The court's review is Metzler Inv. GMBH v. Corinthian Colls., Inc., When a motion to dismiss is granted, a district court must 4 1 decide whether to grant leave to amend. 2 Circuit has a liberal policy favoring amendments and, thus, leave 3 to amend should be freely granted. 4 Freight System, Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992). 5 a court does not need to grant leave to amend in cases where the 6 court determines that permitting a plaintiff to amend would be an 7 exercise in futility. 8 Winery, 829 F.2d 729, 738 (9th Cir. 1987) ("Denial of leave to 9 amend is not an abuse of discretion where the pleadings before the United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Generally, the Ninth See, e.g., DeSoto v. Yellow However, See, e.g., Rutman Wine Co. v. E. & J. Gallo court demonstrate that further amendment would be futile."). 11 B. Rule 9(b) 12 Claims sounding in fraud are subject to the heightened 13 pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b), 14 which requires that a plaintiff alleging fraud "must state with 15 particularity the circumstances constituting fraud." See Kearns v. 16 Ford Motor Co., 567 F. 3d 1120, 1124 (9th Cir. 2009). "To satisfy 17 Rule 9(b), a pleading must identify the who, what, when, where, and 18 how of the misconduct charged, as well as what is false or 19 misleading about [the purportedly fraudulent] statement, and why it 20 is false." 21 Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks 22 and citations omitted). United States ex rel Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 23 24 IV. DISCUSSION 25 Defendants make six arguments about why Plaintiffs' FAC should 26 be dismissed: (1) Plaintiffs did not sufficiently plead why PepsiCo 27 can be held liable for Frito-Lay's actions; (2) Plaintiffs lack 28 standing as to products they do not claim to have purchased; (3) 5 1 Plaintiffs fail to state claims for all of their causes of action 2 because no reasonable consumer is likely to be harmed or deceived 3 by the labels at issue, and because Plaintiffs' claims fail to meet 4 Rule 9(b)'s heightened pleading standard; (4) Plaintiffs' unjust 5 enrichment and quasi-contract claims fail as a matter of law; (5) 6 Plaintiffs fail to state a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty 7 Act ("MMWA"); and (6) Plaintiffs fail to state a claim under the 8 Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act ("Song-Beverly"). 9 MTD. See generally United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 A. The Statutory Framework 11 The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FDCA"), 21 U.S.C. § 301 et 12 seq., as amended by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 13 1990 ("NLEA"), 21 U.S.C. § 343(r), et seq., is the operative 14 statute in this matter. 15 The many subsections of 21 U.S.C. § 343 establish the 16 conditions under which food is considered "misbranded." Generally, 17 food is misbranded under 21 U.S.C. § 343(a)(1) if "its labeling is 18 false or misleading in any particular." 19 regulate the information that must be included in all packed 20 products' "nutrition box," as well as all other nutrient content 21 claims that appear elsewhere on the label. Sections 343(q) and (r) 22 Section 343(q) governs information that must be disclosed 23 about certain nutrients in food products -- principally in the 24 nutrition box area. 25 health-related claims" about food products made anywhere on their 26 labels. 27 content or health information that a manufacturer includes on the 28 food label or packaging. Section 343(r) discusses "nutrition levels and It governs all voluntary statements about nutrition The Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") 6 calories"), "implied" (e.g., "high in oat bran"), and "health 3 claims," which "characteriz[e] the relationship of any substance to 4 a disease or health-related condition." 5 101.14; see also Chacanaca v. Quaker Oats Co., 752 F. Supp. 2d 6 1111, 1116-17 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (describing the statutory scheme). 7 Section 343(r) clarifies that it does not govern nutrition content 8 claims made under Section 343(q) (i.e., inside the nutrition box), 9 though an accompanying regulation, 21 C.F.R. § 101.13, clarifies 10 United States District Court has classified these nutrient claims as "express" (e.g., "100 2 For the Northern District of California 1 that "[i]f such information is declared elsewhere on the label or 11 in labeling, it is a nutrition content claim and is subject to the 12 requirements for nutrient content claims [under Section 343(r)]." 13 See Chacanaca, 752 F. Supp. 2d at 1117. 21 C.F.R. §§ 101.13, 14 B. Plaintiffs' Claims Against PepsiCo 15 Plaintiffs name PepsiCo as a defendant, but they never explain 16 exactly how PepsiCo, as Frito-Lay's parent company, is liable for 17 Frito-Lay's activity. 18 Court to take judicial notice of a website purported to be 19 published by PepsiCo, on which PepsiCo allegedly directs consumers 20 to Frito-Lay's website. See ECF No. 35 (Pl.'s Response to Def.'s 21 RJN) at 1-2, Exs. 2-3. Plaintiffs also claim in their opposition 22 brief that they alleged PepsiCo to have jointly and unlawfully 23 labeled the misbranded products. 24 To cure this problem, Plaintiffs ask the Opp'n at 4-5 (citing FAC ¶¶ 2-4). The Court DENIES Plaintiffs' request for judicial notice of 25 these documents, made in response to Defendants' RJN, as an 26 impermissible attempt to amend the pleadings. 27 plead anything about these particular websites in their FAC. 28 Rather, they now attempt to supply new facts in their opposition 7 Plaintiffs did not 1 brief and their response to Defendants' RJN. The Court declines to 2 allow this practice. 3 Corrections, 151 F.3d 1194, 1197 n.1 (9th Cir. 1998) ("[A] court 4 may not look beyond the complaint to . . . a memorandum in 5 opposition to a defendant's motion to dismiss."). 6 Court takes judicial notice of the exhibits attached to Plaintiff's 7 opposition, which Defendants did not oppose, since those documents 8 -- FDA complaint letters, part of an FDA brochure, and a Lay's 9 Classic Potato Chips label -- are all either part of the public See, e.g., Schneider v. Cal. Dep't of United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 record or incorporated by reference into the FAC. 11 However, the 1-7. 12 See Opp'n Exs. Plaintiffs' actual allegations are plainly that "Defendants" 13 made false claims about their products in a SEC filing and on an 14 unidentified website. 15 above "threadbare recitals" of legal conclusions even when the 16 Court construes them most liberally. 17 The Court finds these pleadings insufficient to show that PepsiCo 18 is properly named as a defendant in this case. 19 against PepsiCo are DISMISSED with leave to amend. 20 amend to plead how PepsiCo is responsible for the allegedly 21 actionable conduct at issue here. FAC ¶¶ 2-4. These allegations fail to rise See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiffs' claims Plaintiffs may 22 C. Standing 23 Plaintiffs plead that they bought five different Frito-Lay 24 products, but their claims appear to be based on a much wider 25 variety of products that they do not specify in their complaint, 26 including "other varieties of potato chips, corn-based snacks like 27 Cheetos and Fritos, and other types of salty snacks." 28 see also FAC ¶ 1 (challenging "potato chips and other snack food 8 Opp'n at 4; 1 products . . . sold by [Frito-Lay]"). Defendants argue that 2 "Plaintiffs' standing arguments sweep far too broadly," because 3 Plaintiffs allege that they have standing to bring their case based 4 on an array of products that they do not even name. 5 At this point, however, it is unnecessary for the Court to address 6 the issue of standing for these products: as discussed infra, 7 Plaintiffs' claims as to the unidentified products fail for lack of 8 specificity under Rule 9(b). 9 Inc., -- F. Supp. 2d --, 2012 WL 6569393, at *11 (N.D. Cal. Dec. Reply at 1-2. See, e.g., Jones v. Conagra Foods, United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 17, 2012) (dismissing plaintiffs' claims against defendant for 11 failure to meet Rule 9(b)'s specificity standard because plaintiffs 12 did not provide details about "exactly which products they 13 purchased"). 14 D. 15 Defendants argue that the entire FAC sounds in fraud and must Plausibility and Specificity 16 therefore meet the heightened pleading standard of Rule 9(b) 17 because it alleges a continuous course of false, deceptive, and 18 misleading activity. 19 respond that the FAC complies with Rule 9(b) because it is specific 20 enough to give defendants notice of their alleged misconduct, and, 21 separately, that their unlawful business practices claim under the 22 UCL need not comply with Rule 9(b) because it does not sound in 23 fraud. See Opp'n at 24-25; MTD at 19-20. Plaintiffs Opp'n at 24. 24 Regarding Plaintiffs' latter point, the rule is that 25 plaintiffs need not satisfy Rule 9(b) as to the UCL's unlawful 26 prong when the basis of their claim does not sound in fraud. 27 Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp., 317 F.3d 1097, 1105-06 (9th Cir. 2003). 28 However, when it does, and especially when a plaintiff alleges a 9 See 1 unified course of fraudulent conduct that forms the basis of their 2 UCL claims, plaintiffs must plead the UCL claims with specificity. 3 Id. 4 claims on Defendants' alleged violations of underlying laws by way 5 of allegedly fraudulent or deceptive labeling and advertising 6 practices. 7 FAC, including its unlawful business practices claim, sounds in 8 fraud and must meet Rule 9(b)'s heightened pleading standards. 9 Kearns, 567 F.3d at 1125; Vess, 317 F.3d at 1103-04. In this case, Plaintiffs base their unlawful business practice See FAC ¶¶ 176-79. Consequently Plaintiffs' entire See It is true United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 that, as discussed below, the actual likelihood of deception in 11 UCL, FAL, and CLRA cases is judged by a "reasonable consumer" 12 standard. 13 (9th Cir. 2008); Colucci v. ZonePerfect Nutrition Co., No. 12-2907 14 SC, 2012 WL 6737800, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 28, 2012). 15 whether a plaintiff even reaches that point at the pleading stage 16 is governed in part by Rules 8 and 9(b). 17 WL 6737800, at *7; Jones, 2012 WL 6569393, at *11. 18 See Williams v. Gerber Prods. Co., 552 F.3d 934, 938-40 However, See, e.g., Colucci, 2012 Many of Plaintiffs' allegations fail to meet Rule 9(b)'s 19 heightened pleading standard because Plaintiffs simply fail to 20 provide underlying factual details that give Defendant notice and 21 explain to the Court "the who, what, when, where, and how" of the 22 misconduct charged. 23 that Defendants made false and misleading statements about a 24 variety of their products, but at no point in their 53-page, 252- 25 paragraph FAC do Plaintiffs provide details about those products, 26 or about the advertisements and websites they frequently quote to 27 support their claims. Nor does Plaintiffs' opposition brief 28 clarify these issues. Plaintiffs simply have not pled which Vess, 317 F.3d at 1106. 10 Plaintiffs allege 1 products they purchased in a way sufficient for Defendants to be on 2 notice of the products that are actually at issue. 3 WL 6569393, at *11. 4 See Jones, 2012 Further, as to Rule 8, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a 5 complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, 6 to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,'" Iqbal, 7 556 U.S. at 663 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 370), and the 8 critical facts must be pled as part of the "short and plain 9 statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 relief," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. 11 or unnamed products do not rise to this level: given the variation 12 in food labeling even among the Named Products, the Court cannot 13 assume that all of the products at issue are mislabeled even if 14 Plantiffs' pleadings are taken as true. 15 Plaintiffs' claims about unpurchased Despite Plaintiffs' pleading defects, Defendants gamely 16 address Plaintiffs' claims, supplying the labels toward which 17 Defendants assume Plaintiffs' allegations are addressed. 18 at 7-21; Reply at 5-12; Def.'s RJN Exs. B-F. 19 object to the Court's taking notice of these current labels: they 20 appear to agree that the labels Defendants supply are at least some 21 of the labels at issue in their case. 22 Response to Def.'s RJN) at 1. 23 packaging in Defendants' RJN -- the Named Products' packaging -- is 24 essentially the same packaging that Plaintiffs claim is misleading. 25 As for the one instance in which Plaintiffs argue that there is a 26 material difference in the labels before the Court -- the Lay's 27 Classic Potato Chips labeling and advertisement Plaintiffs include 28 in their FAC at paragraph five, versus different labeling for the See MTD Plaintiffs do not See ECF No. 35 (Pl.'s The Court therefore assumes that the 11 1 same product included in Defendants' RJN -- the Court's analysis 2 below will address both labels, since Plaintiffs claim that both 3 are misleading. 4 See Opp'n at 7. Plaintiffs' claims as to the Named Products are undisturbed. 5 Plaintiffs' claims as to all other products, as well as the 6 unidentified advertisements and web pages, are DISMISSED without 7 prejudice for failure to comply with Rules 8 and 9(b). 8 has leave to amend these claims if it can provide details on what 9 the unnamed but allegedly purchased products, advertisements, or Plaintiff United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 websites were, when they were purchased or viewed, where the 11 allegedly actionable statements appeared, how the statements were 12 misleading, who made the statements, and so forth. 13 E. Whether Websites Mentioned on Product Labels Constitute Labeling 14 15 The parties dispute whether statements Defendants make on the 16 www.fritolay.com website can constitute "labeling" of the Named 17 Products under the FDCA. 18 claim that 21 U.S.C. § 321(m) renders the content on the website 19 "labeling," even though none of the website's content actually 20 appears on the labels at issue here, asserting that the FDA has 21 confirmed that "websites are indeed part of a product['s] 22 labeling." 23 point. 24 Opp'n at 19. See Opp'n at 19; Reply at 11. Plaintiffs Plaintiffs cite no authority for this See id. Section 321(m) defines "labeling" as "all labels and other 25 written, printed, or graphic matter (1) upon any article or any of 26 its containers or wrappers, or (2) accompanying such article." 27 issue here is whether statements made on the www.fritolay.com 28 website "accompany" the Named Products such that they can be 12 The 1 2 classified as "labeling" under the FDCA. It is true that statements not actually printed on a label 3 itself can constitute "labeling" for FDCA purposes. What matters 4 is whether the separate material serves the purpose of labeling, 5 which is to supplement or explain the product. 6 States, 335 U.S. 345, 349-350 (1950) ("One article or thing is 7 accompanied by another when it supplements or explains it . . . No 8 physical attachment one to the other is necessary. 9 textual relationship that is significant."); Alberty Food Prods. Kordel v. United It is the United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Co. v. United States, 185 F.3d 321, 324-25 (9th Cir. 1950) (citing 11 Kordel for this proposition); see also United States v. Harkonen, 12 No. C 08-0164 MHP, 2009 WL 1578712, at *9 (N.D. Cal. June 4, 2009) 13 (Kordel " remains the leading Supreme Court authority on the scope 14 of the labeling provision."). 15 their claims on the fact that some of the Named Products include 16 the words "Visit our website @ fritolay.com" in tiny print at the 17 bottom of their back labels. 18 Plaintiffs claim that Defendants' marketing language on the 19 www.fritolay.com website constitute mislabeling under the FDCA. 20 See, e.g., FAC ¶¶ 42, 60, 102, 127, 129, 152-53. 21 In this matter, Plaintiffs base See Def.'s RJN Exs. B-F. From this The Court does not find that the language on the 22 www.fritolay.com website constitutes labeling under the FDCA, 23 because as cited by Plaintiffs, none of the website language 24 explains or supplements the individual Named Products such that the 25 website could generally be found to "accompany" the Named Products. 26 See Kordel, 335 U.S. at 349-50. 27 labels ask consumers to visit the website, they do not state that 28 the website will inform consumers of the details of the Named Even though the Named Products' 13 1 Products' nutritional facts, and none of the language Plaintiffs 2 cite is drawn closely enough to the Named Products themselves to 3 merit the website's being found to constitute "labeling." 4 extent that any of Plaintiffs' claims are based on language from 5 the www.fritolay.com website, those claims are DISMISSED with leave 6 to amend if Plaintiffs are able to provide or describe labels or 7 website language constituting "labeling," per above. To the 8 F. Defendants' Preemption Arguments 9 Defendants maintain that Plaintiffs' state law claims as to United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Defendants' statements that their products contain "No MSG" and "0 11 Grams Trans Fat" are preempted by federal law. 12 The FDCA, as amended by the NLEA, contains an express 13 preemption provision, making clear that state laws imposing 14 labeling requirements not identical to FDA mandates are preempted. 15 See 21 U.S.C. § 343-1(a). 16 law effectively parallels or mirrors the relevant sections of the 17 NLEA, courts have repeatedly refused to find preemption." 18 Chacanaca, 752 F. Supp. 2d at 1118 (citing N.Y. State Restaurant 19 Ass'n v. N.Y.C. Bd. of Health, 556 F.3d 114, 123 (2d Cir. 2009); 20 Chavez v. Blue Sky Natural Beverage Co., 268 F.R.D. 365, 370 (N.D. 21 Cal. 2010)). 22 stating: "[I]f the State requirement does the same thing that the 23 Federal law does . . . then it is effectively the same requirement 24 as the Federal requirement . . . [T]he only State requirements that 25 are subject to preemption are those that are affirmatively 26 different from the Federal requirements on matters that are covered 27 by Section 403A(a) of the Act." 28 57120 (Nov. 13, 1995). "Where a requirement imposed by state The FDA itself appears to endorse this approach, Final Rule, 60 Fed. Reg. 57076, 14 1 "This means that plaintiffs' claims need not fail on 2 preemption grounds if the requirements they seek to impose are 3 either identical to those imposed by the FDCA and the NLEA 4 amendments or do not involve claims or labeling information of the 5 sort described in [21 U.S.C.] sections 343(r) and 343(q)." 6 Chacanaca, 752 F. Supp. 2d at 1119. 7 issue are nutrient content claims as contemplated by [21 U.S.C. § 8 343(r)], plaintiffs' deception claims may only go forward if they 9 can show that the statements would also be 'misbranded' under the United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 terms of [the FDCA and NLEA]." i. "That is, if the statements at Id. "0 Grams Trans Fat" Claims Are Not Preempted Plaintiffs' claims as to Defendants' "0 Grams Trans Fat" 13 labels are based on a theory that while the claim itself is 14 accurate as to the products' trans fat content, those labels are 15 nevertheless unlawful under 21 C.F.R. § 101.13(h)(1), which states 16 that whenever an express nutrient content claim is made on a food 17 label, that label must bear further disclosures about ingredients 18 that the FDA has found pose diet-related health risks: 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 If a food . . . contains more than 13.0 g of fat, 4.0 g of saturated fat, 60 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, or 480 mg of sodium per reference amount customarily consumed, per labeled serving, or, for a food with a reference amount customarily consumed of 30 g or less . . . per 50 g . . . then that food must bear a statement disclosing that the nutrient exceeding the specified level is present in the food as follows: "See nutrition information for ___ content" with the blank filled in with the identity of the nutrient exceeding the specified level, e.g., "See nutrition information for fat content." Plaintiffs clarify that Defendants violate this provision by making "0 Grams Trans Fat" claims even though their products 15 1 contain more than 13 grams of fat. FAC ¶ 84. 2 allege, Defendants' labeling "bears a statement telling consumers 3 to 'see nutrition facts for saturated fat info,'" even though the 4 total fat level is also high, "thus misdirecting consumers to a 5 nutrient in which the product is low, while failing to draw their 6 attention to the harmful levels of the nutrient (total fat) they 7 are mandated by law to disclose." 8 theory, whenever Defendants label a food product with "0 Grams 9 Trans Fat," the accompanying statement under 21 C.F.R. § 101(h)(1) Id. As Plaintiffs According to Plaintiffs' United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 should say something like "See nutrition facts for saturated fat 11 and total fat info," thereby including all of the nutrients that 12 would be required per 21 C.F.R. § 101(h)(1). 13 at 7-16. 14 See FAC ¶ 84; Opp'n Defendants argue that all claims based on such "0 Grams Trans 15 Fat" statements are preempted by the FDCA. 16 at 8-9. 17 from this Court: Carrea v. Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Inc., No. 10- 18 1044 JSW, 2011 WL 159380 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 10, 2011), aff'd, 475 Fed. 19 App'x 113 (9th Cir. 2012), and Delacruz v. Cytosport, No. 11-3532 20 CW, 2012 WL 2563857 (N.D. Cal. June 28, 2012). 21 distinguishable and inapposite to the preemption discussion. 22 See MTD at 11-13; Reply They base this argument primarily on two recent decisions Both cases are In Carrea, the plaintiff's "0 Grams Trans Fat" claim was based 23 on the theory that, since the product in question actually 24 contained more than zero but less than half a gram of trans fat, 25 the defendants could not label the food product as "0g Trans Fat." 26 See Carrea, 2011 WL 159380, at *3. 27 explicitly stated that "If the serving [in question] contains less 28 than 0.5 gram, the content, when declared, shall be expressed as 16 However, FDA regulations 1 zero." Id. (citing 21 C.F.R. § 101.9(c)(2)(ii)). Since 2 plaintiff's state law claims in Carrea imposed labeling 3 requirements not identical to the FDA's promulgations, this Court 4 found that they were preempted per the FDCA as amended by the NLEA. 5 See id. at *3-4. 6 tried to impose an obligation that was explicitly disclaimed by FDA 7 regulations, and so its imposition through state law was held to be 8 preempted. In other words, in Carrea, the plaintiffs had See id. In Delacruz, the plaintiff claimed that a nutrition bar's 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 statement of "0g Trans Fat" was actionable because the bar 11 contained "more than four grams of saturated fat and its label 12 omits the disclosure statement 'See nutrition information for 13 saturated fat content.'" 14 that the "0g Trans Fat" statement, while an "alleged distraction," 15 did not "amount to a false statement or misrepresentation and, 16 thus, [was] not an actionable claim." 17 nothing to do with federal preemption: it concerned whether the 18 plaintiff had adequately pled one of her claims. 2012 WL 2563857, at *4. Id. This Court found That holding had The Court finds that Plaintiffs' claims are in line with 19 20 federal law and regulations. 21 rely on statutes that explicitly incorporate federal law and 22 regulations without modification,3 and since those claims also do 23 not attempt to impose stricter requirements than those laws or 24 regulations, Plaintiffs' state law claims are not preempted. 25 claims are all based on the theory that by not complying with the 26 relevant federal laws and regulations, Defendants' labels mislead 27 3 28 Since Plaintiffs' state law claims These Plaintiffs' state law claims are based on California's Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("Sherman Act"), Cal. Health & Safety Code § 109875 et seq., which adopts and incorporates the FDCA. 17 1 and deceive consumers. 2 Rule 12(b)(6) motion below. 3 4 ii. The Court evaluates whether they survive a Plaintiffs' "No MSG" Claims Are Not Preempted Plaintiffs' "No MSG" allegations are based on the fact that 5 some of the Named Products -- apparently just Lay's Honey Barbecue 6 Potato Chips and Lay's Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips -- contain 7 ingredients like torula yeast and yeast extract, which are sources 8 of monosodium glutamate ("MSG") despite not technically being MSG. 9 See FAC ¶¶ 59-72. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Defendants argue that the FDA's formal regulation on MSG 11 labeling provides that "[a]ny monosodium glutamate used as an 12 ingredient in food shall be declared by its common or usual name 13 'monosodium glutamate,'" 21 C.F.R. § 101.22(h)(5), while "sources 14 of MSG," like yeast extract, must be labeled according to their 15 common names, like "yeast extract" or "hydrolyzed protein," see, 16 e.g., id. §§ 101.22(h)(7) (protein hydrolysates), 184.1983 (baker's 17 yeast extract). 18 therefore proper: Named Products like Cheetos that contain MSG are 19 not labeled as having "No MSG," Def.'s RJN Ex. E, while Named 20 Products like Lay's Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips, Def.'s 21 RJN Ex. D, which contain yeast extract and torula yeast, state 22 those ingredients' common names in the nutrition box and include a 23 "No MSG" statement on the label. Defendants conclude that their labels are 24 However, Plaintiffs' opposition brief cites a November 19, 25 2012 FDA statement, made on the FDA's website section regarding 26 MSG, that purportedly clarifies the FDA's regulations here: 27 28 FDA requires that foods containing added MSG list it in the ingredient panel on the packaging as monosodium glutamate. However, 18 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 MSG occurs naturally in ingredients such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, as well as in tomatoes and cheeses. While FDA requires that these products be listed on the ingredient panel, the agency does not require the label to also specify that they naturally contain MSG. However, foods with any ingredient that naturally contains MSG cannot claim "No MSG" or "No added MSG" on their packaging. MSG also cannot be listed as "spices and flavoring." 8 Opp'n Ex. B. This statement, made several months after Defendants 9 filed their motion to dismiss, could save Plaintiffs' state law United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 claims from preemption if it is a binding regulation, since in that 11 case Plaintiffs' claims would be in line with federal law. 12 issue here is whether the above statement is binding and entitled 13 to deference by the Court. The 14 Defendants claim that because the above FDA statement is a 15 "nonbinding, informal guidance that does not alter the FDA's formal 16 regulatory scheme," because it was not preceded by notice, 17 opportunity for public comment, or expert testimony. 18 (citing Christensen v. Harris Cnty., 529 U.S. 576, 587 (2000) for 19 the principal that some agency action that is not the product of 20 formal adjudication or rulemaking lacks the force of law). 21 Defendants argue that the Court owes the FDA's statement no 22 deference under Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452, 461 (1997), because 23 the language of the regulation was not ambiguous and the FDA's 24 statement on its website "does not purport to interpret any 25 regulation." 26 statement on its website] does not purport to interpret any 27 regulation," but the Court finds that it does: the regulations in 28 question are the FDA's labeling requirements for MSG as a Reply at 13 n.10. Reply at 13 Defendants state that "the [FDA's 19 1 particular ingredient and ingredients that are sources of MSG. 2 "[W]here an agency interprets its own regulation, even if 3 through an informal process, its interpretation of an ambiguous 4 regulation is controlling under Auer unless 'plainly erroneous or 5 inconsistent with the regulation.'" 6 F.3d 927, 930 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Auer, 519 U.S. at 461). 7 threshold question is whether the FDA's regulation on MSG and 8 sources of MSG was ambiguous. 9 Circuit addressed whether a Department of Labor regulation was Bassiri v. Xerox Corp., 463 Id. at 931. The In Bassiri, the Ninth United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 ambiguous and found that it was, because the term at issue there, 11 "normal rate of compensation," "was left open to . . . various 12 interpretations" by the agency, the district court, and the 13 parties. 14 Id. In this case, the regulations have at least two possible 15 interpretations. 16 requires each type of ingredient to be listed with its proper name, 17 a "No MSG" statement would not be misleading under the regulations 18 because "MSG" means only "MSG" as an individually named ingredient. 19 Alternatively, the regulations might be interpreted to forbid such 20 a statement because they clearly acknowledge that MSG is just one 21 type of free glutamate, meaning that "No MSG" would be misleading 22 if the product contained another type of free glutamate other than 23 MSG despite properly providing that ingredient's name. 24 The regulations might suggest that since the FDA Under these circumstances, the FDA's statement on its website 25 appears to be its own interpretation of an ambiguous regulatory 26 scheme, and the Court finds that it owes the FDA's statement 27 deference under Auer, since the FDA's clarifying statements do not 28 appear "plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation," nor 20 1 are they based on impermissible constructions of the governing 2 statute. 3 though MSG and ingredients that are sources of MSG must be labeled 4 by their proper names, a manufacturer cannot say that a product 5 containing an ingredient that is a source of MSG, like torula 6 yeast, therefore contains "No MSG." therefore not preempted by federal law.4 G. 9 United States District Court Plaintiffs' Surviving Claims as to Plaintiffs' UCL, FAL, and CLRA Actions 10 For the Northern District of California The FDA made clear that even Plaintiffs' state law claims about "No MSG" statements are 7 8 Auer, 519 U.S. at 457, 461. Plaintiffs' claims as to their purchases of the Named Products 11 12 remain in the case. Defendants were cognizant enough of these 13 products and their labels to respond to Plaintiffs' claims about 14 them in detail, and in any event, Plaintiffs meet the "who, what, 15 when, where, and how" standard as to those products per Rule 9(b). 16 The Court first considers Plaintiffs' allegations about each type 17 of allegedly actionable statement and whether Plaintiffs have 18 sufficiently pled their UCL, CLRA, and FAL claims based on these 19 statements. 20 falsity, reliance, or injury: their contentions are essentially 21 that none of the statements in question are misleading as a matter 22 of law. Defendants do not argue that Plaintiffs fail to plead The CLRA, FAL, and UCL, which are the basis of Plaintiff's 23 24 first through sixth causes of action, are California consumer 25 protection statutes. The UCL makes actionable any "unlawful, unfair 26 4 27 28 While the Court finds that the regulatory statement addressed in this Section is binding and entitled to deference, the parties have yet to address the issue of how, if at all, such a clarification should apply retroactively to Defendants' statements made during the Class Period, prior to the FDA's statements. 21 1 or fraudulent business act or practice." 2 17200. 3 statement concerning property or services that is "untrue or 4 misleading." 5 of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices." 6 Civ. Code § 1770. 7 Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § The FAL makes it unlawful to make or disseminate any Id. § 17500. The CLRA also prohibits "unfair methods Cal. False advertising and unfair or fraudulent business practices 8 claims under the UCL, FAL or CLRA are governed by the "reasonable 9 consumer" test. Williams, 552 F.3d at 938 (citing Freeman v. Time, United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Inc., 68 F.3d 285, 289 (9th Cir. 1995)). 11 consumer standard, a plaintiff must "show that members of the 12 public are likely to be deceived." 13 citations omitted). 14 "that these laws prohibit not only advertising which is false, but 15 also advertising which[,] although true, is either actually 16 misleading or which has a capacity, likelihood, or tendency to 17 deceive or confuse the public." 18 Inc., 45 P.3d 243, 250 (Cal. 2002)) (internal quotations omitted). 19 Under the reasonable Id. (quotation marks and The California Supreme Court has recognized Id. at 938 (quoting Kasky v. Nike, Generally, the question of whether a business practice is 20 deceptive presents a question of fact not suited for resolution on 21 a motion to dismiss. 22 circumstances consider the viability of the alleged consumer law 23 claims based on its review of the product packaging. 24 Pepsico, Inc., No. C 09–04456 SBA, 2010 WL 2673860, at *3 (N.D. 25 Cal. July 2, 2010). 26 of law that members of the public are not likely to be deceived by 27 the product packaging, dismissal is appropriate." 28 Sugawara v. Pepsico, Inc., No. 2:08-CV-01335–MCE-JFM, 2009 WL See id. However, the court may in certain See Werbel v. "Thus, where a court can conclude as a matter 22 Id. (citing 1 1439115, at *3–4 (E.D. Cal. May 21, 2009) (finding that the 2 packaging for Cap'n Crunch cereal and its use [of] the term "Crunch 3 Berries" was not misleading); see also, e.g., Videtto v. Kellogg 4 USA, No. 2:08–cv–01324–MCE–DAD, 2009 WL 1439086, at *2 (E.D. Cal. 5 May 21, 2009) (dismissing UCL, FAL and CLRA claims based on 6 allegations that consumers were misled into believing that "Froot 7 Loops" cereal contained "real, nutritious fruit"). 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 This Order addresses Plaintiffs' unjust enrichment and warranty claims separately. i. "All Natural" Claims The following products bear a seal stating "Made with ALL 12 NATURAL Ingredients," according to the labels supplied in 13 Defendants' RJN: Lay's Classic Potato Chips, Lay's Kettle Cooked 14 Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips, and Fritos Original Corn Chips. 15 other Named Products do not include that seal and are therefore 16 excluded from this discussion. The 17 Plaintiffs explain that they base their "All Natural" 18 allegations largely on the FDA's interpretation of "natural" as 19 being truthful and not misleading when "nothing artificial or 20 synthetic . . . has been included in, or has been added to, a food 21 that would not normally be expected to be in the food." 22 Reg. 2302, 2407 (Jan. 6, 1993). 23 some of Defendants' products contain "artificial and unnatural 24 maltodextrin, ascorbic acid[,] citric acid, and caramel color in 25 the products," Defendants' use of "All Natural" language is 26 unlawful. 27 "All Natural" in a vacuum, since the full phrase is indeed "Made 28 with ALL NATURAL Ingredients." Opp'n at 23-24. 58 Fed. Plaintiffs allege that because Defendants respond that they do not use Reply at 8-11. 23 Defendants assert 1 that no reasonable consumer would be misled by the phrase because, 2 in context -- including the "made with . . ." language and the 3 nutrition box -- the label only states that the product includes 4 some all-natural ingredients, in this case potatoes and natural 5 oils. 6 matter of law, would read the statement in that context and sate 7 any further curiosity by reading the nutrition box. 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 See id. Defendants assert that a reasonable consumer, as a See id. The Ninth Circuit provides guidance on how district courts should approach claims like this one: We disagree . . . that reasonable consumers should be expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box . . . . We do not think that the FDA requires an ingredient list so that manufacturers can mislead consumers and then rely on the ingredient list to correct those misinterpretations and provide a shield for liability for the deception. Instead, reasonable consumers expect that the ingredient list contains more detailed information about the product that confirms other representations on the packaging. Williams, 552 F.3d at 939. In light of Williams, Defendants' argument fails. The label 20 is ambiguous because the phrase "all natural," lacking a hyphen, 21 could suggest either that the labeled product is exclusively 22 natural or that the product simply includes some all-natural 23 ingredients. 24 could find that a reasonable consumer would ascribe significance to 25 the "made with . . ." qualifier and not be misled by the label, but 26 the Court does not find the choice so obvious as a matter of law, 27 and none of Defendants' cases are precisely on point. 28 Red v. Kraft Foods, Inc., No. CV 10-1028-GW(AGRx), 2012 WL 5504011, Defendants urge otherwise, stating that the Court 24 See, e.g., 1 at *4 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2012) (obvious as a matter of law that no 2 reasonable consumer would think that a box of crackers would not be 3 composed primarily of fresh vegetables); Hairston v. South Beach 4 Beverages Co., Inc., No. CV 12-1429-JFW(DTBx), 2012 WL 1893818, at 5 *5 (C.D. Cal. May 18, 2012) (preempted statements about fruit names 6 and vitamins had been removed from the "All Natural," phrases at 7 issue making it "impossible for Plaintiff to allege how the 'all 8 natural' language is deceptive without relying on the preempted 9 statements regarding fruit names and vitamins"). United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 While courts may have found it obvious as a matter of law, 11 under the reasonable consumer standard, that crackers are not 12 primarily made of fresh vegetables, Red, 2012 WL 5504011, at *4, or 13 that "Froot Loops" do not contain "real, nutritious fruit," 14 Videtto, 2009 WL 1439086, at *3, the Court finds that Plaintiffs 15 have adequately pled that a reasonable consumer could interpret a 16 bag of chips claiming to have been "Made with ALL NATURAL 17 Ingredients" to consist exclusively of natural ingredients, 18 contrary to the reality described in the nutrition box. 19 Williams, 552 F.3d at 939. 20 resolve any ambiguity, the Court cannot conclude as a matter of 21 law, in the context of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, that no reasonable 22 consumer would be deceived by the "Made with ALL NATURAL 23 Ingredients" labels. 24 See Even though the nutrition box could Plaintiffs' "All Natural" claims under the UCL, FAL, and CLRA 25 survive as to the Named Products whose labels bear that statement 26 and include non-natural ingredients. 27 before the Court, this is limited to Lay's Kettle Cooked Mesquite 28 BBQ Potato Chips, since neither Lay's Classic Potato Chips nor 25 According to the labels 1 Fritos Original Corn Chips appear to contain any of the "non- 2 natural" or synthetic ingredients on which Plaintiffs' claims here 3 are premised. 4 leave to amend as to all of the Named Products except Lay's Kettle 5 Cooked Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips. 6 7 ii. Plaintiffs' "All Natural" claims are DISMISSED with "No MSG" Claims This Order explains Plaintiffs' "No MSG" claims in Section 8 IV.F.ii, supra. FDA regulations support Plaintiffs' theory as to 9 why the Named Products featuring "No MSG" labels are actionably United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 misbranded: manufacturers are forbidden from claiming that a 11 product made with an ingredient that contains MSG therefore "No 12 MSG," rendering it both a violation of the underlying regulation 13 and, as Plaintiffs claim, confusing to consumers for some of the 14 Named Products' packaging to state that the product includes "No 15 MSG" when, in fact, it does. 16 sufficiently stated claims under the UCL, FAL, and CLRA as to the 17 Named Products that are actually labeled with the "No MSG" phrase 18 despite including what the FDA has indicated to be sources of MSG. 19 20 iii. Therefore Plaintiffs have "0 Grams Trans Fat" Claims Plaintiffs' "0 Grams Trans Fat" claims are explained in 21 Section IV.F.i, supra. Plaintiffs argue that the "0 Grams Trans 22 Fat" labels are misleading when they were not, per FDA regulations, 23 accompanied with a statement directing consumers to the amount of 24 the product's fat content that exceeds the levels described in the 25 pertinent regulation, 21 C.F.R. § 101.13(h)(1). 26 Plaintiffs state that they relied on these claims and were harmed 27 because they would not have purchased the product had they known 28 that the products also included levels of ingredients that should 26 See FAC ¶¶ 84-99. 1 have been noticed on the front of the label, per 21 C.F.R. § 2 101.13(h)(1), but were omitted. See id. Defendants' response relies mainly on this Court's decision in 3 dismissed a plaintiff's claims as to a "0 Grams Trans Fat" 6 statement on a nutrition bar, holding that even though that 7 statement was not accompanied by a 21 C.F.R. § 101.13(h)(1) 8 disclosure of any sort, the statement was true, and the distraction 9 the statement posed relative to fat and saturated fat contents 10 United States District Court Delacruz, 2012 WL 2563857, at *8. 5 For the Northern District of California 4 In Delacruz, this Court constituted neither a false statement nor a misrepresentation. 11 id. at *8-10. See Considering a motion to dismiss in this case, which has a 12 13 similar but ultimately distinct fact pattern from Delacruz, the 14 Court cannot conclude as a matter of law that Plaintiffs' "0 Grams 15 Trans Fat" claims would not be misleading or deceptive to a 16 reasonable consumer. 17 considered the FAC, as well as the properly noticed FDA letters and 18 regulations, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently 19 alleged that the "0 Grams Trans Fat" statement was deceptive 20 because, accompanied by a disclosure of at least one of the 21 ingredients that 21 C.F.R. § 101.13(h)(1) requires to be disclosed, 22 they and other reasonable consumers would think that the statements 23 on the labels make accurate claims about the labeled products' 24 nutritional content when, in fact, they do not. 25 Accordingly, all Named Products whose "0 Grams Trans Fat" statement 26 is not accompanied by statements that are fully compliant with 21 27 C.F.R. § 101.13(h)(1) remain in the case. 28 /// See Williams, 552 F.3d at 939. 27 Having See FAC ¶¶ 82-99. iv. 1 "Low Sodium," "Healthy," and Other Nutrient Claims It is undisputed that none of the Named Products include "low 2 3 in sodium," "healthy," or beneficial nutrient labels on their 4 packaging. 5 on uncited websites or advertisements, which the Court has already 6 found are either not specified under Rules 8 or 9(b), not 7 judicially noticeable in this matter, or are not "labeling" for any 8 product as a matter of law. 9 have therefore not pled a cause of action based on any of these FAC ¶¶ 100-34. Plaintiffs' allegations are all based See id.; Opp'n at 19-22. Plaintiffs United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 claims. These claims are DISMISSED with leave to amend. 11 H. 12 Plaintiffs asserted breaches of warranty under the federal Plaintiffs' Warranty Claims 13 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("MMWA") and California's Song-Beverly 14 Consumer Warranty Act ("Song-Beverly"). 15 these claims fail as a matter of law. 16 right. 17 "All Natural," "No MSG," and other health and nutrient content 18 claims constitute express written warranties, which MMWA defines 19 as: 20 21 22 23 Defendants argue that MTD at 22-23. They are Under their MMWA claim, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' any written affirmation of fact or written promise made in connection with the sale of a consumer product by a supplier to a buyer which relates to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or workmanship is defect free or will meet a specified level of performance over a specified period of time. 24 15 U.S.C. § 2301(6)(A) (emphasis added). The MMWA's disjunctive 25 language ("or") identifies two kinds of written warranties, the 26 first warranting a "defect free" product and the second warranting 27 a product that will "meet a specified level of performance over a 28 specified period of time." Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants 28 1 breached their implied warranties under the MMWA. While Defendants 2 argue that Plaintiffs simply have not pled claims under the MMWA, 3 Plaintiffs make no more than a conclusory defense of these claims 4 in their opposition brief. See Opp'n at 25 n.13. The Court finds that Plaintiffs' claim fails as a matter of 5 6 law. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' package labels are 7 warranties that Defendants breached by selling, at premium prices, 8 food products whose labels do not comply with federal or California 9 labeling requirements. FAC ¶¶ 247-49. This Court has held United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 repeatedly that such arguments are meritless, since product 11 descriptions like "All Natural" labels "do not constitute 12 warranties against a product defect." 13 Ice Cream, Inc., No. C 11-2910 EMC, 2012 WL 2990766, at *3 (N.D. 14 Cal. July 20, 2012), mot. to certify appeal denied, No. C 11-2910 15 EMC, 2012 WL 3892391 (Oct. 12, 2012); see also, e.g., Colucci, 2012 16 WL 6737800, at *5-6; Jones, 2012 WL 6569393, at *12-13 (citing 17 cases). 18 meet a specified level of performance over a specified period of 19 time." 20 Plaintiffs' MMWA claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. 21 could not save these claims and would be prejudicial to Defendants. 22 Astiana v. Dreyer's Grand Further, none of the labels promise that the product "will The labels were, at most, product descriptions. Plaintiffs' Song-Beverly claims also fail. Amendment Plaintiffs allege 23 that Defendants' products contain express and implied warranties 24 under Song-Beverly, which Defendants breached by selling misbranded 25 products at premium prices. 26 an "express warranty" as "[a] written statement arising out of a 27 sale to consumer of a consumer good pursuant to which the 28 manufacturer, distributor, or retailer undertakes to preserve or FAC ¶¶ 237-40. 29 Song-Beverly defines 1 maintain the utility or performance of the consumer good or provide 2 compensation if there is a failure in utility or performance." 3 Cal. Civ. Code § 1791.2 (emphasis added). 4 Song-Beverly likewise attach to "consumer goods." 5 "consumer good" is "any new product or part thereof that is used, 6 bought, or leased primarily for personal, family, or household 7 purposes, except for . . . consumables." Implied warranties under Id. § 1791.1. A Id. § 1791(a). matter of law: Song-Beverly does not provide for express or implied 10 United States District Court Plaintiffs' claims under Song-Beverly are deficient as a 9 For the Northern District of California 8 warranties as to consumables, and so by definition Plaintiff cannot 11 plead breaches of those warranties under Song-Beverly as to any of 12 Defendants' food products. 13 DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for the same reason Plaintiffs' MMWA 14 claims were. 15 I. 16 Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' cause of action for 17 restitution based on unjust enrichment fails as a matter of law 18 because (1) "there is no cause of action in California for unjust 19 enrichment," (2) Plaintiffs have not identified an unjustly 20 conferred benefit warranting redress, (3) Plaintiffs cannot allege 21 a quasi-contractual remedy because they alleged that their 22 relationship with Defendants was governed by binding express 23 warranties, and (4) Plaintiffs' request for equitable relief is 24 improper because there is an adequate remedy at law under the 25 statutes Plaintiffs cite. 26 they have properly pled an unjust enrichment claim because they 27 alleged that Defendants were enriched by means of "unlawful, 28 fraudulent, and misleading labeling." Plaintiffs' Song-Beverly claims are Plaintiffs' Restitution Based on Unjust Enrichment Claim MTD at 21-22. 30 Plaintiffs respond that Opp'n at 25 (citing FAC ¶¶ 1 239, 246-49). In support of this response Plaintiffs cite Colucci, 2 in which this Court held that unjust enrichment had been properly 3 pled because those plaintiffs pled it in the alternative. 4 6737800, at *10. 2012 WL Plaintiffs did not plead that their unjust enrichment claim is 5 6 based on quasi-contract or pled in the alternative. 7 228-31. 8 correctly, they are entitled to the claim. 9 wrong. See FAC ¶¶ They simply assert that because they pled the elements Opp'n at 25. This is Cf. Colucci, 2012 WL 6737800, at *10 ("[C]laims for United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 restitution or unjust enrichment may survive the pleading stage 11 when pled as an alternative avenue of relief, though the claims, as 12 alternatives, may not afford relief if other claims do."). 13 claim is DISMISSED with leave to amend if Plaintiffs wish to plead 14 it in the alternative. This 15 16 17 V. CONCLUSION For the reasons explained above, Defendants Frito-Lay North 18 America, Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc.'s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs 19 Markus Wilson and Doug Campen's first amended complaint is GRANTED 20 in part and DENIED in part. The Court orders as follows: 21 Plaintiffs' claims as to PepsiCo are DISMISSED with leave 22 to amend. 23 Plaintiffs' claims as to all products except the products 24 named and described in the complaint, Lay's Classic 25 Potato Chips, Lay's Honey Barbeque Potato Chips, Lay's 26 Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips, Cheetos Puffs, 27 and Fritos Original Corn Chips (collectively the "Named 28 Products"), are DISMISSED with leave to amend. 31 1 As to the Named Products and Defendant Frito-Lay, 2 Plaintiffs' UCL, CLRA, and FAL claims based on all 3 statements except the "All Natural," "No MSG," and "0 4 Grams Trans Fat" statements are DISMISSED with leave to 5 amend. 6 are undisturbed. 7 based on content appearing on websites or advertisements, 8 including the "low sodium," health claims, and "other" 9 claims, are DISMISSED with leave to amend. Plaintiffs' claims as to those three statements Claims as to these statutes that are United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Plaintiffs' claim for breaches of warranties under the 11 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Song-Beverly Consumer 12 Warranty Act are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. 13 Plaintiffs' claim for restitution based on unjust 14 enrichment is DISMISSED with leave to amend. 15 Plaintiffs may amend these claims if they can specify exactly which 16 products, regulations or laws, and other relevant elements are at 17 issue, and otherwise correct the deficiencies described above. 18 Plaintiffs are instructed to keep their pleadings short, plain, and 19 plausible. Boilerplate pleadings are strongly discouraged. 20 Plaintiffs have thirty (30) days from this Order's signature 21 date to file an amended complaint, or the deficient claims may be 22 dismissed with prejudice. 23 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 Dated: April 1, 2013 27 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 28 32

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