In the Courtroom: Odwalla Class Action Dropped

Consumers Drop Odwalla ‘Cane Juice’ Class Action

A class action against Odwalla Inc., which claims the company’s use of the phrase “evaporate cane juice” on products was misleading, ended earlier this month when lead plaintiff Robin Reese withdrew the suit, Law 360 reports.

In August 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized rules calling the phrase “evaporated cane juice” misleading. The FDA recommended that companies that list evaporated cane juice as an ingredient instead use “sugar.” The case’s dismissal comes after a February 2017 decision in which U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez rejected Odwalla’s argument that there were no formal rules prohibiting the phrase’s use prior to the FDA’s decision

Reese originally filed the case on March 1, 2013, claiming that evaporated cane juice was “an unlawful name” and stated she would not have purchased Odwalla products if she knew they contained added sugar.

However, the case will not move forward to seek nationwide consumer retribution due to an inability to prove damages.

“Because no records exist that could identify purchasers of Odwalla products that contained evaporated cane juice, and because individual consumers cannot be expected to recall whether a product they bought years ago listed evaporated cane juice as an ingredient, commonality and predominance could never be met,” the defense said, according to docket filings reported by Law 360.

Speaking to BevNET, Noah Hagey, managing partner at law firm BraunHagey & Borden, agreed with the decision to dismiss the case, calling class certification in this instance “virtually impossible” to achieve.

“Here, the company probably had three years of data showing that Odwalla’s pricing and sales did not change as a result of removing the term “evaporated cane juice” from the back of the label,” Hagey said. “The company apparently used different labels during the proposed class period, and plaintiff’s lawyers had no way to prove which purported class members saw which labels. Certifying a class, much less obtaining any economic recovery, is prohibitive in that situation, and it makes little sense for plaintiffs’ lawyers to waste resources pursuing such a case.”

Hint Calls for Stay on “All Natural” Suit

Hint Inc. is asking a California court to stay a lawsuit filed on January 17. The lawsuit claims the flavored water company’s use of propylene glycol, an FDA-approved synthetic substance used in natural flavors, violates the brand’s “all natural” claims.

In the suit, plaintiff Lisa Kim Madrigal argues that consumers would not expect to find propylene glycol, which is “chemically manufactured and highly processed,” in a labeled all natural product, Food Navigator-USA reported Wednesday.

However, citing an ongoing FDA probe into the term “natural,” Hint has requested a stay of the suit. Since the FDA probe began in 2015, several other class action lawsuits over “natural” labelling claims have been stayed on primary jurisdiction grounds.

Under legal definition of the term “natural flavors” propylene glycol is allowed. However, it is not allowed in organic certified products. Hint claims to be “all-natural, vegan and free of calories, MSG, nuts, peanuts, soy, gluten, and preservatives.”

Lawsuit Challenges “Cold Pressed” and “Fresh Pressed” Claims on Lakewood Organic Juices

Lakewood Organic Juices is facing a potential class action lawsuit that takes aim at the brand’s use of the phrases “cold pressed” and “fresh pressed” and claims the juices are pasteurized.

According to the lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in California by lead plaintiff Estelle Shane, Lakewood Organic Juices make the claim of being cold and fresh pressed in “bold, italic, underlined, and large font on the front labels of the Juice bottles.”

“Over the past several years, the most significant driver in the juice industry has been consumer demand for fresh and minimally processed juices,” the lawsuit states. “Such juices are an alternative to the majority of juices in the marketplace that have been pasteurized and sit on store shelves for months. The terms “cold pressed” and “fresh” are material representations that carry a specific meaning in both law and logic for the consuming public.”

The lawsuit seeks more than $5 million in compensation.