Jones v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. C 12-01633 CRB, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178352 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2012)

(motion to dismiss class action lawsuit alleging deceptive and misleading labeling of several of defendant’s products; allegations include stating products are 100% natural when containing chemicals and artificial ingredients, certifying organic when containing disqualifying ingredients, failure to use common terms for ingredients or misplacing ingredients; false representation of products being free of artificial ingredients, false antioxidant, nutrient, and health claims, and claiming products to be fresh or have a fresh taste; all claims brought under state statutes and common law; defendants argued federal law preempts many claims; court held state claims regarding labels of organic are not preempted by Organic Foods Product Act (OFPA); Plaintiffs' antioxidants, ingredient list/propellent, spices and other preservative claims not preempted by the National Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) because state enacted laws identical to federal law; court also held FDA was not primary jurisdiction to determine definition of natural as a reasonable consumer standard is to be used in labeling claims; court held that all three elements of a false labeling claim must be met: falsity, reliance, and injury; court dismissed plaintiffs’ falsity claims regarding only website health statements, but allowed plaintiffs to amend petition; defendant argued plaintiffs could not show reliance on the “natural” claims on the label because the artificial ingredients were disclosed on the ingredients list; court denied dismissal of reliance allegations for all complaints; court also held plaintiffs alleged sufficient injury by alleging purchase of the products would not have occurred if they had been properly labeled; court did dismiss some allegations under Rule 9(b) for lack of specificity for failure to specifically identify products, but allowed plaintiffs to amend petition to satisfy requirements; court dismissed with prejudice as a matter of law plaintiffs’ warranty claims under Song-Beverly Act and Magnuson-Moss Act; court denied dismissal of an unjust enrichment claim because it was premised on quasi-contract principles).

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