On October 12, 2012, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Otis D. Wright dismissed a putative false advertising class action against General Nutrition Centers, Inc. (“GNC”) involving allegations of mislabeling of a dietary supplement under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Judge Wright also dismissed the remaining non-federal consumer protection claims for failure to establish diversity jurisdiction.  Bates v. General Nutrition Centers Inc. et al., Case Number 2:12-cv-01336-ODW(AJWx) (C.D. Cal.)

In Bates, plaintiff Lynnette Bates alleged that GNC and Cullucor Sports Nutrition sold a dietary supplement called C4 Extreme that contained a dangerous drug known as 1,3 dimethylamylamine (“DMMA”) that is synthetic and not derived from geraniums, as advertised, thus breaching its warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.  The class action lawsuit sought $5 million in damages for consumers who purchased C4 Extreme thinking that they were purchasing a natural dietary supplement.

GNC filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was inapplicable to plaintiff’s breach of warranty claim.  The Court agreed and threw out the suit.

In dismissing the breach of warranty claim, Judge Wright noted:

“The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to written warranties on consumer products. 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301–2312. But the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is limited, because it is ‘inapplicable to any written warranty the making or content of which is otherwise governed by Federal law.’ 15 U.S.C. § 2311(d).  Defendants are correct that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claim should be dismissed because the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act governs written warranties on the labeling of dietary supplements. (Mot. 22.)

Other courts have followed the same language from the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and dismissed such claims relating to the labeling of products that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act regulates. Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 99 Cal. App. 4th 780, 797 (2002) (finding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act inapplicable because the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act governs the labeling of drugs); Hairston v. South Beach Beverage Co., No. CV 12-1429-JFW (DTBx), 2012 WL 1893818, *5 (C.D. Cal. May 18, 2012) (dismissing the Magnuson- Moss Warranty Act claim because the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act regulates the labeling of beverages).

This case deals with the labeling of Defendants’ C-4 Extreme dietary supplement. It matters not whether C-4 Extreme should be classified as a food, dietary supplement, or drug—the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act labeling regulations apply for all three classifications. 22 U.S.C. § 343.  Thus, Plaintiff cannot state a claim for under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.”

Additionally, Judge Wright, sua sponte, found that plaintiff’s lawsuit failed to establish the amount in controversy required to assert diversity jurisdiction for the remaining causes of action.  Specifically, Judge Wright held that based on the sale price of C-4 Extreme 30 dose bottle of $39.99, the plaintiff (or the class members) failed to individually show that she suffered damages in excess of $75,000.00 to establish the amount in controversy requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) and CAFA.