A federal court in California has denied the motion to certify statewide monetary or injunctive relief classes in litigation alleging that J.M. Smucker’s labels for uncrustables and Crisco Original and Butter Flavor Shortening products “mislead consumers into believing that they are healthful, when in reality they both contain trans fat and uncrustables also contain high fructose corn syrup.” Caldera v. The J.M. Smucker Co., No. 12-4936 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., decided April 15, 2014). As to monetary relief, the court dismissed the motion to certify with prejudice.
The court agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff could not satisfy the predominance requirement as to her claims for monetary relief because she failed to identify any method of proving damages on a class-wide basis other than relying on the defendant’s California sales data. According to the court, this is insufficient to support a claim for restitution, because “this is not a case where class members would necessarily be entitled to a full refund of their purchase price. . . . As evidenced by Plaintiff’s own deposition testimony, class members undeniably received some benefit from the products.” Cautioning that “[t[his is not to say that damages can never be determined on a classwide basis under California’s consumer protection statutes,” the court noted that the plaintiff “had failed to offer any evidence, let alone expert testimony, that damages can be calculated based on the difference between the market price and the true value of the products.”Thus she failed to meet her burden that damages could be proven on a class-wide basis, and the court ordered her to proceed as an individual with respect to her claims for monetary relief.
As to the plaintiff’s apparent alternate request for certification of injunctive relief classes, the court observed that the plaintiff did not “explain why certification of her injunctive relief claims under Rule 23(b)(2) would be appropriate.” It also appeared to the court that she could pursue the injunctive relief she sought as an individual. The court denied her request to certify injunctive relief classes without prejudice and ordered the plaintiff to show cause within 14 days “why certification of her injunctive relief classes is warranted or even necessary.” Her failure to do so “will be deemed her abandonment of her request to certify her injunctive relief classes, in which case this action will proceed as to Plaintiff’s individual action only with respect to her claims for injunctive relief as well..”