On September 19, 2014, Pom Wonderful, LLC dropped its Ninth Circuit appeal of a ruling that dismissed its state deceptive advertising and unfair competition claims against Coca-Cola, a sibling case to a recent Supreme Court decision. (See prior Pom Wonderful blog post here.) Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit will not revisit whether Pom Wonderful’s state court claims were preempted by the FDCA.
Pom Wonderful originally brought both state and federal claims claiming Coca-Cola misleadingly labeled a product which contained 99% apple and grape juice as a pomegranate-blueberry juice. Pom Wonderful’s federal claims under the Lanham Act reached the Supreme Court, which ruled this summer that even if a company’s food label meets the requirements of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and FDA regulations, that does not necessarily immunize the company from a competitor’s Lanham Act claims for false advertising. Pom Wonderful, LLC v. The Coca-Cola Co., 134 S.Ct. 2228 (2014). Notably, the Court stated the case did not “raise the question of whether state law is pre-empted by federal law.”
Pom Wonderful’s state law claims were dismissed by a judge in the Central District of California in February 2013, on the grounds that they were expressly preempted by the FDCA. Pom Wonderful appealed the decision in May 2013, but the case was stayed pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Lanham Act claims.
Pom Wonderful’s decision not to pursue the appeal means that the Ninth Circuit will not address the preemption of state claims in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.