The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has consolidated six actions questioning the “100% Natural” claims for Wesson oil products before a multidistrict litigation (MDL) court in California. In re: Wesson Oil Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2291 (JPML, transfer order filed October 13, 2011). The defendant requested the transfer, and while the California, Florida and New Jersey plaintiffs supported consolidation, they disagreed on the transferee district. According to the court, centralization “in the Central District of California will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.”
The court found, “All actions contain similar allegations against ConAgra and share factual questions regarding the labeling and marketing of Wesson oils as ‘100% Natural’ when the oils purportedly contain genetically modified plants or organisms. Little litigation activity has occurred in the actions, which were all filed within the past few months, and plaintiffs seek to represent overlapping classes of consumers. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery and prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly with respect to class certification.” Additional details about two of the cases appear in Issues 400 and 401 of this Update.