A federal court in California has granted in part the motion to dismiss filed by Arizona Beverages USA LLC, in a putative class action alleging the violation of consumer fraud and false advertising laws due to company representations that its products are “Natural,” “All Natural” and “100% Natural.” Ries v. Arizona Beverages USA LLC, No. 10-01139 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Jose Div., decided August 25, 2011). The plaintiffs contend that the products are not natural in that they contain high-fructose corn syrup and an artificially produced citric acid. At issue in the defendants’ motion was whether the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded the claims in their first amended complaint under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

According to the court, the complaint adequately pleaded fraud in connection with the plaintiffs’ allegations arising out of the product labels. The court concluded, “These allegations are not inherently implausible and are sufficient for purposes of Rule 9(b).” The first amended complaint also included claims relating to Internet advertising and “other promotional” materials, but because the plaintiffs failed to identify any specific ads or materials, the court found these claims insufficient. Dismissing them, the court again gave the plaintiffs leave to amend.  

Meanwhile, a federal court in New Jersey has, on reconsideration of its order denying a motion for class certification in similar litigation against Arizona Beverage, again found the plaintiff an inadequate representative of the class. Coyle v. Hornell Brewing Co., No. 08-2797 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.N.J., decided August 30, 2011). The court concluded that the named representative was inadequate because of credibility problems associated with the date she allegedly purchased the products at issue. In this regard, the court stated, “Without doubt, determining whether this Plaintiff made her purchase of Defendants’ product on the date she repeatedly claimed, after she had retained a lawyer to file suit, would become a major focus and quite probably a show-stopper for this class.”