Plaintiffs in a class action certified by a California federal court in April 2011, have filed an opposition to the defendants’ motion to decertify the class in light of a case the U.S. Supreme Court decided in June. Johnson v. General Mills, Inc., No. 10-00061 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., S. Div., pleading filed August 22, 2011). The plaintiffs allege that class members were misled by the defendants’ representations that YoPlus® products had digestive health benefits. Details about the court’s certification ruling appear in Issue 385 of this Update.
According to the plaintiffs, the defendants did not seek review of the court’s certification ruling and, in fact, agreed to the plaintiffs’ class notification program, which the court approved. The defendants purportedly assert that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling rendered 10 days later compels the court to decertify the class. Claiming that the defendants’ argument is untenable as an unwarranted expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding, the plaintiffs request that the court deny the motion for decertification. Essentially, the defendants claim that (i) because a few of the class members may have purchased the product for reasons apart from its digestive health promise, certification is prohibited under Dukes, and (ii) Dukes requires that all class members have Article III standing, that is, they are all required to have been affected by the digestive health message.
According to the plaintiffs, “General Mills is simply attempting to reframe, through an unwarranted expansion of Dukes, the same arguments about classwide reliance and causation under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the California Unfair Competition Law that General Mills previously made to this Court and that this Court has already rejected.”