A federal court in New York has determined that while plaintiffs alleging they were sold olive-residue oil, or Pomace, instead of the “100% Pure Olive Oil” appearing on the labels of The Gourmet Factory’s Capatriti-brand products could not maintain a cause of action under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, their claims did exceed the $5-million threshold for maintenance of the action in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Ebin v. Kangadis Food Inc. d/b/a The Gourmet Factory, No. 13-2311 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y., order entered July 26, 2013).
The plaintiffs apparently based their amount-in-controversy allegation on documents that the defendant submitted in parallel litigation brought by an olive oil trade association. Details about that suit appear in Issues 470, 482 and 483 of this Update. Thus the court rebuffed the defendant’s attempt to fault the plaintiffs for failing to conduct an independent investigation into the amount-in-controversy before filing the complaint, observing “Defendant cites no authority for the remarkable notion that plaintiffs cannot in good faith rely on defendant’s own representations to this Court.” Based on either the full retail price paid for the products or on the benefit of the bargain, calculated by taking the price the plaintiffs actually paid for what they thought was pure olive oil and subtracting the general price of the Pomace they actually received, the court found that the roughly $10.9-million amount derived from sales in New York and New Jersey adequately met the CAFA jurisdictional requirement.