ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION OF DEFENDANT JAMBA JUICE COMPANY WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge.
Plaintiff filed this putative class action against Defendant Jamba Juice Company ("Jamba Juice"), alleging that it falsely represented that its smoothie kits are "All Natural," when they are not. Plaintiff brings four claims, alleging violations of: (1) California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code §§ 17200 et seq. ("UCL"); (2) California's False Advertising Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code §§ 17500 et seq. ("FAL"); (3) the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ.Code §§ 1750 et seq. ("CLRA"); and (4) the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301 et seq. ("MMWA").
Jamba Juice has filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, (Dkt. No. 22 ("FAC")), on two grounds: First, Plaintiff's Fourth Cause of Action, under the MMWA, fails because the "All Natural" statement on the smoothie kits did not establish a written warranty. Second, Plaintiff only purchased the smoothie kits in two of the five flavors, and therefore, he lacks standing to bring claims based on products he never purchased.
Having carefully considered the papers submitted and the pleadings in this action, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby
Jamba Juice is a leading health food and beverage retailer. (FAC ¶ 2). It has retail locations that offer fruit smoothies, fresh squeezed juices, teas/lattes, and snacks. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 13.) Jamba Juice also offers consumer at-home products, including frozen novelty bars and at-home smoothie kits ("smoothie kits"). (Id. ¶¶ 2, 14.) Defendant's smoothie kits are at issue in this case. (Id. ¶ 2.)
Jamba Juice's smoothie kits are prominently labeled as "All Natural," and are available in five flavors: Mango-a-go-go, Strawberries Wild, Caribbean Passion, Orange Dream Machine, and Razzmatazz. (Id. ¶ 12.) By labeling its smoothie kits as "All Natural," Jamba Juice has been able to charge a price premium for its smoothie kits, which cost about $4.39 each. (Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff alleges that the smoothie kits are not "All Natural," and contain the following unnaturally processed, synthetic and/or non-natural ingredients: ascorbic acid, steviol glycosides, xanthan gum, and citric acid. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 21-24.)
In December 2011, Plaintiff Kevin Anderson purchased Jamba Juice's Mango-a-go-go and Razzmatazz smoothie kits. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff relied on the representations that the smoothie kits were "All Natural" when he made his purchase. The "All Natural" representation was material to Plaintiff's decision to buy the smoothie kits, and he paid a price premium for the Jamba Juice smoothie kits that he would not have paid had the true facts been disclosed to him. (Id.) Plaintiff filed this action on behalf of himself and a class of consumers who purchased one or more of Defendant's smoothie kits, which Plaintiff alleges were falsely labeled as "All Natural" despite the inclusion of the unnaturally processed, synthetic substances, or substances created via chemical processing.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003). "Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacified Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1990). All allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Johnson v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 653 F.3d 1000, 1010 (9th Cir.2011). To survive a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to `state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
Review is generally limited to the contents of the complaint and documents attached thereto. Allarcom Pay Television. Ltd. v. Gen. Instrument Corp., 69 F.3d 381, 385 (9th Cir.1995). The Court may also consider a matter that is properly the subject of judicial notice without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of a fact not subject to reasonable dispute because it is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. Fed.R.Evid. 201(b).
A. WHETHER "ALL NATURAL" LANGUAGE ON PRODUCT PACKAGING CONSTITUTES A WRITTEN WARRANTY UNDER THE MAGNUSON MOSS WARRANTY ACT?
Plaintiff's Fourth Cause of Action alleges that Jamba Juice's representations that its smoothie kits are "All Natural" violates the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301 et seq., which provides a consumer remedy for breach of a written warranty made in connection with the sale of a consumer product. According to the FAC, labeling the smoothie kits as "All Natural" created a written warranty that the ingredients in the smoothie kits were free of a particular type of defect (i.e., that they were not synthetic, artificial and/or otherwise non-natural). FAC ¶ 64. In Plaintiff's view, by failing to provide smoothie kits that contained only "All Natural" ingredients, Jamba Juice breached this written warranty (i.e., the smoothie kits contained unnaturally processed, synthetic and/or non-natural ingredients, and therefore, were not defect free). Id. ¶ 65.
Jamba Juice argues that Plaintiff's MMWA claim must be dismissed because the phrase "All Natural" does not fit within the statute's definition of a "written warranty." The MMWA defines a written warranty as follows:
15 U.S.C. § 2301(6)(A).
Plaintiff maintains that the language "All Natural" on the smoothie kits' labels "relates to the nature of the material" and is a written affirmation of fact or promise as to the quality and contents of the product-that the smoothie kits are "defect free."
District Courts have held consistently that labeling a product "All Natural" is not a "written warranty" under the MMWA. See Astiana v. Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Inc., C-11-2910 EMC, 2012 WL 2990766 (N.D.Cal. Jul. 20, 2012) (claim that food product is "natural" describes product but does not give assurance that product is defect free and therefore does not create warranty); Littlehale v. Trader Joe's Co., C-11-6342 PJH, Dkt. No. 48 (N.D.Cal. Jul. 2, 2012) (statements "Pure Natural" and "All Natural" are "mere product descriptions," not "affirmations or promises that the products are defect free"); Larsen v. Nonni's Foods, LLC, C-11-05188 SI, Dkt. No. 41 (N.D.Cal. Jun. 14, 2012) ("All Natural" and "100% Natural" are not written warranties promising that food products are defect free because "this Court is not persuaded that being `synthetic' or `artificial' is a `defect.'"); Hairston v. South Beach Beverage Co., Inc., 2012 WL 1893818 (C.D.Cal. May 18, 2012) (representations that beverage was "all natural with vitamins" "are product descriptions rather than promises that Lifewater is defect-free or guarantees of specific performance levels."). The Court finds the reasoning in these cases persuasive.
The statement "All Natural" is a general product description rather than a promise that the product is defect free. See Larsen, supra, C-11-05188 SI, Dkt. No. 41 (N.D.Cal. Jun. 14, 2012) (rejecting claim that the use of synthetic ingredients in food labeled "all natural" rendered that food defective, reasoning the "deliberate use of [synthetic] ingredients does not comport with the plain meaning of the word `defect.'"). A product description does not constitute a written warranty under the MMWA. See Littlehale, supra, C-11-6342 PJH, Dkt. No. 48 (N.D.Cal. Jul. 2, 2012) ("To accept plaintiffs' argument [that the statement "All Natural" promises the product is defect free] would be to transform most, if not all, product descriptions into warranties against a defect, and plaintiffs have not articulated any limiting principle to convince the court otherwise."). Therefore, the language "All Natural" on the smoothie kits' labels did not create a written warranty within the meaning of the MMWA.
Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court
B. WHETHER PLAINTIFF HAS STANDING TO BRING CLAIMS ON BEHALF OF PURCHASERS OF FLAVORS PLAINTIFF DID NOT BUY?
Standing under Article III and the UCL, FAL, and CLRA requires that a plaintiff has suffered an injury-in-fact. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351
Jamba Juice argues that Plaintiff does not have standing to bring claims on behalf of purchasers of smoothie kit flavors he did not buy: Strawberries Wild, Caribbean Passion, and Orange Dream Machine. (FAC ¶ 28.) Plaintiff only alleges that he purchased Mango-a-go-go and Razzmatazz smoothie kits. (Id. ¶ 12.) Thus, Jamba Juice argues that Plaintiff's claims as to the Strawberries Wild, Caribbean Passion, and Orange Dream Machine smoothie kits should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim because Plaintiff has failed to allege that he purchased those three smoothie kit products, let alone that he suffered any injury from them.
The parties recognize that district courts in this circuit have diverged on the issue of whether a plaintiff has standing to bring claims on behalf of consumers who purchased similar, but not identical products. See Donohue v. Apple, Inc., 871 F.Supp.2d 913, 921-22, 11-CV-05337 RMW, 2012 WL 1657119, at *6 (N.D.Cal. May 10, 2012) (noting divergence and collecting cases). Plaintiff argues that he has standing to represent a class of consumers with regard to a product he did not purchase so long as his claims are based on the "`same core factual allegations and causes of action.'" Pl's Opp'n 10.
The "critical inquiry [in these cases] seems to be whether there is sufficient similarity between the products purchased and not purchased." Astiana, supra, C11-2910 EMC, 2012 WL 2990766, at *11 (different flavors of ice cream carried under different brand names, Edy's/Dreyer's and Haagen-Daz, sufficiently similar where same wrongful conduct applied).
Here, Plaintiff is challenging the "All Natural" labeling of Jamba Juice at-home smoothie kits, which comes in a variety of flavors — Mango-a-go-go, Strawberries Wild, Caribbean Passion, Orange Dream Machine, and Razzmatazz. There is sufficient similarity between the products purchased (Mango-a-go-go and Razzmatazz smoothie kits) and the products not purchased (Strawberries Wild, Caribbean Passion, and Orange Dream Machine smoothie kits) because the same alleged misrepresentation was on all of the smoothie kit regardless of flavor; all smoothie kits are labeled "All Natural," and all smoothie kits contain allegedly non-natural ingredients (xanthan gum, ascorbic acid and steviol gycosides). Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiff has standing to bring claims on behalf of purchasers of smoothie kit flavors he did not buy, and the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over such claims.
Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court
For the reasons set forth above, the Court
Plaintiff's Fourth Cause of Action for breach of warranty under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301 et seq., is
No later than
Within 21 days of the filing of the above, Defendant shall file a response.