Paul Seeley

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Plaintiffs’ Full Refund Theory of Restitution Under California’s Unfair Competition Law Goes Up in Smoke in Latest Tobacco II Opinion

The long saga of In re Tobacco Cases II recently produced yet another appellate opinion addressing California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), False Advertising Law (“FAL”), and the remedies they provide.  This time, in In re Tobacco Cases II, 240 Cal. App. 4th 779 (Sept. 28, 2015) (“Tobacco II”), the appellate court considered what “restitution” under … Continue Reading

Recent Ninth Circuit Decisions in False Advertising Consumer Class Action Cases May Prevent Preemption and Relegate the Primary Jurisdiction Doctrine to Second-Class Status

In two recent decisions, Reid v. Johnson & Johnson, __ F.3d __, Case No. 12-56726 (9th Cir. March 13, 2015) and Astiana v. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., __ F.3d __, Case No. 12-17596 (9th Cir. April 10, 2015), the Ninth Circuit either rejected or minimized the use of preemption and primary jurisdiction as defenses … Continue Reading

Court Finds that Class Action Plaintiffs’ False Advertising Claims are Stripped Bayer Based on Federal Preemption

In the recent case of Gallagher v. Bayer AG, Case No. 14-cv-04601-WHO (N.D. Cal. March 10, 2015), the plaintiffs asserted that the defendants Bayer AG and related entities (collectively, “Bayer”) engaged in false advertising under California, New York, and Florida law.  The products in question were 20 varieties of One-A-Day vitamins that each included advertising … Continue Reading

Ascertainability Saps Plaintiffs’ Energy in Dietary Supplement Class Action

In the recent decision Mirabella v. Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Case No. 12-62086-CIV-ZLOCH (S.D. Fl. Feb. 27, 2015) the plaintiffs attempted, but failed, to certify a nationwide class of all purchasers of an energy drink that allegedly caused harmful side-effects.  The plaintiffs brought claims under Florida’s consumer protection statute, known as the Deceptive and Unfair Trade … Continue Reading

Tea Manufacturer Defeats Damages – Seeking Class Action Plaintiff in an Opinion Steeped in Comcast

In Lanovaz v. Twinings North America, Inc., 2014 WL 1652338, Case No. C-12-02646-RMW (N.D. Cal. April 24, 2014), the court granted-in-part and denied-in-part a motion for class certification in a false advertising case about tea labels.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s tea was “misbranded” because it advertised the tea as a “Natural Source of … Continue Reading

J.M. Smucker Company Gets Out of a Jam in Food Labelling Case

On April 15, 2014, in the case Caldera v. The J.M. Smucker Co., CV 12-4936-GHK, J.M. (C.D. Cal.), Smucker Company (“Defendant”) defeated the plaintiff’s motion for class certification in a case challenging the labels on Defendant’s Crisco shortening and Uncrustables food products.  The lawsuit claimed that Defendant had mislabeled its Crisco shortening with false claims … Continue Reading

A (POM) Wonderful Result For Consumer Class Action Defendants

On March 25, 2014, the court in In re: POM Wonderful LLC Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, Case No. ML 10-02199 DDP (C.D. Cal.), granted a motion by defendant POM Wonderful LLC (“POM”) to decertify a previously certified class of consumers who purchased certain POM juice products.  The court granted POM’s motion because plaintiff failed … Continue Reading

Comity and Commonality: A Tale of Two Identical Class Actions Brought By Forum-Shopping Plaintiffs’ Counsel

In Murray v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., No. C 09-5744, 2014 WL 563264 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 12, 2014), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion for class certification that was practically identical to a motion brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that was … Continue Reading

‘Natural’ Suits Persist Absent FDA Definition

It is no secret that some advertisers believe that using the term “natural” is an effective way to advertise a product. Some consumers seem to prefer these “natural” products for a variety of reasons, even while no one (particularly the Food and Drug Administration) has set forth an accepted definition of what “natural” actually means. … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Applies the Brakes to Runaway Nationwide Class Actions

In the recently published decision Mazza v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc., No. 09-55376 (9th Cir. 1-12-12), the Ninth Circuit reversed the certification of a nationwide class composed of consumers seeking relief under California’s consumer protection laws. In doing so, the court significantly decreased the viability of such nationwide classes, particularly when the plaintiff seeks … Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Denies Class Certification of UCL Cause of Action Despite Tobacco II’s Holding

In Avritt v. Reliastar Life Ins., __ F.3d__ (8th Circ. 8-12-2010), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying class certification of a putative class of California annuity investors who were allegedly misled by the defendant. The opinion re-affirms the federal rules that require the plaintiff to show that it can prove reliance and … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Settlement Despite Vigorous Objections

UPDATE:  On July 28, 2010, the Court of Appeal, First District, modified and published the opinion in Cellphone Fee Termination Cases .  The court retained its holdings regarding the adequacy of the class notice and the appropriate “incentive” payments to the class representatives.  However, the court did not publish the portion of its opinion that analyzed the “fairness” … Continue Reading

Pfizer: The Court of Appeal Rinses Away the Tobacco II Aftertaste

In Pfizer, Inc. v. Superior Court, ___ Cal. App. 4th __ (March 2, 2010), the Court of Appeal, Second District, applied In re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal. 4th 298 (2009) (“Tobacco II“) to overturn an order granting class certification. The Pfizer opinion resuscitates traditional class certification opposition strategies based on the unfair competition law (the “UCL”) … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Reaffirms That a Case Terminates When the Class Representative’s Claims Become Moot Before Class Certification

In Clark v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Nos. 07-1454, 07-1466, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order denying class certification because it lost jurisdiction when the representative plaintiff’s claims became moot. Clark shows how a defendant’s request for a merits determination before class certification was rewarded when the resulting decision mooted the named … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Affirms Denial of Class Certification Based On Presence of Individual Issues While Rejecting Plaintiff’s Argument Based on Tobacco II

In In re Vioxx Class Cases, (2009) __ Cal. App. 4th __, the trial court denied class certification after the defendant, Merck & Co., Inc. effectively showed that the plaintiff’s theory of the case was grossly simplified. By introducing copious evidence showing the numerous factors that may relate to each class member’s reliance and damages, Merck … Continue Reading
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