A federal court in California has granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss filed by Twinings North America, Inc. to the second amended putative class complaint filed by a woman who alleged that she paid a premium for the company’s green, black, white, and red teas relying on their purportedly misleading label—“a natural source of antioxidants.” Lanovaz v. Twinings N. Am., Inc., No. 12-2646 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Jose Div., order entered May 23, 2013). The company sought to dismiss claims relating to products the plaintiff did not purchase, labeling the plaintiff did not see or advertising upon which the plaintiff did not rely.
According to the court, as long as the “not purchased products” are nearly identical, a plaintiff may bring claims on behalf of others related to those products. Here, “Because the claims for 51 of the varieties of tea are based upon the exact same label describing the same product, camellia sinensis, the court finds that Lanovaz has standing to sue on behalf of purchasers of these teas and thus denies Twinings’ motion with respect to these products. Red tea, on the other hand, is made from a different plant and is thus a significantly different product. Therefore, the court strikes Lanovaz’s claims related to the two varieties of red tea because they are not sufficiently identical.”
Acknowledging that references to Web site statements in the complaint could be clearer, the court found most of them sufficiently pleaded, although it agreed to strike a few of them.