The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has consolidated before a multidistrict litigation (MDL) court in New Jersey six lawsuits alleging that Tropicana deceptively markets its not-from-concentrate orange juice as “100% Pure & Natural,” despite extensive processing. In re: Tropicana Orange Juice Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2353 (J.P.M.L., order entered June 11, 2012). New Jersey was selected as the appropriate venue because plaintiff’s counsel in the case filed there “appear to have significantly investigated and developed the factual issues underpinning their complaint.” Other plaintiffs apparently dismissed their complaints to join the New Jersey action, and JPML found that the court there had the resources to devote to the litigation and an experienced judge not currently overseeing an MDL.
The panel refused to include a potential tag-along case brought by a plaintiff who argued for “industry-wide centralization,” that is, an MDL that would include all orange juice manufacturers that have been sued in similar actions, as well as retailers of “house brands” of not-from-concentrate orange juice. Information about the lawsuit he filed is included in Issue 431 of this Update. According to JPML, such centralization would not produce litigation efficiencies because the “actions involve different products, subject to potentially different methods of pasteurizing and processing, different advertisements, and different putative classes of consumers who purchased each product.” Citing the separate discovery required and “the introduction of competing defendants into the litigation, and the need to protect trade secret and confidential information from full disclosure to the parties, [which] would complicate case management,” the court found that adding this case to the MDL would not be appropriate.