United States District Court, E.D. New York
JOSH DAVIS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
THE HAIN CELESTIAL GROUP, INC; and HAIN BLUEPRINT, INC., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
R. Ross United States District Judge
Josh Davis brings this putative class action against The Hain
Celestial Group, Inc. (“Celestial”) and Hain
BluePrint, Inc. (“BluePrint”) on behalf of
himself and all others similarly situated, seeking monetary
and injunctive relief. He alleges that defendants, which
manufacture and sell juice, have engaged in deceptive product
labeling in violation of N.Y. General Business Law sections
349 and 350. Plaintiff also brings claims for fraudulent
misrepresentation and unjust enrichment based on the same
alleged conduct. Defendants have moved to dismiss the
complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim. In addition, defendants argue that
the unjust enrichment claim must also be dismissed because it
duplicates the other claims in the complaint. Finally,
defendants argue that plaintiff lacks standing to seek
injunctive relief. For the reasons discussed below,
defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
wholly owned subsidiary of Celestial Group-manufactures
personal-sized juices and sells them to third-party sellers
and directly to consumers. First Amended Complaint ¶ 3,
ECF No. 11 (“Compl.”). The two BluePrint product
lines at issue in this case are their “BluePrint Cold
Pressed” juices and their “BluePrint
Organic” juices (individually, the “Cold-Pressed
Line” and the “Organic Line”; collectively,
the “Products”). Id. ¶¶ 2-3
bought two BluePrint beverages in 2016. Id.
¶¶ 90, 93. First, he bought a juice from the
Cold-Pressed Line for roughly $7.99 at a local store.
Id. ¶ 90. The front label said “beet,
apple, carrot, lemon, ginger” and “raw.”
Id. ¶¶ 90-91. The side label listed the
ingredients (in order of weight) as “organic apple, organic
carrot, organic beet, filtered water, organic lemon and
organic ginger.” Id. ¶ 65. Plaintiff
alleges that the label led him to believe that the product
was cold-pressed and raw, and-because beet was listed first
on the front label and because the beverage itself was
red-that the drink was predominantly made of beet juice
(allegedly the most expensive ingredient). Id.
¶¶ 65, 91-92. Second, he purchased a juice from the
Organic Line, titled “Lemon Yay, ” for roughly
$2.99 at a local store. Id. ¶ 93. The back
label stated that the beverage was “crafted with cold
pressed juice.” Id. Plaintiff contends that he
relied on these representations in purchasing both drinks.
Id. ¶¶ 91, 93.
filed the operative complaint in December 2017. Id.
The complaint brings claims for (1) deceptive commercial
practices and false advertising in violation of N.Y. General
Business Law sections 349 and 350, id. ¶¶
97-107, (2) fraudulent misrepresentation, id.
¶¶ 108-20, and (3) unjust enrichment, id.
¶¶ 121-22. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that
labels would mislead a reasonable consumer and that he, in
fact, was misled. Id. ¶¶ 99-106. Further,
he alleges that defendants had an affirmative duty to
disclose that “the Products were processed” and
that “their definition of a raw product excludes
products which are fresh.” Id. ¶ 110.
Finally, he alleges that defendants improperly obtained
profits that they must disgorge to the plaintiff and class
members. Id. ¶ 122.
proposed class is “all consumers in all states who
purchased any Products bearing any of the actionable
representations [described in the Complaint] . . . during the
statute of limitation periods.” Id. ¶ 77.
According to plaintiff, the Products share some or all of the
following characteristics, which he alleges are fraudulent
and misleading. Id. ¶ 4.
the Cold-Pressed Line uses the terms “Cold Pressed
Juice” or “Cold Pressed Juice Beverage” on
the front label. Id. “Cold Pressed” also
appears on one of the side panels, under which it says that
“[t]he BluePrintMethod applies tons of hydraulic
pressure to get the most out of our organic fruits and
vegetables.” Id. ¶ 52; Request for
Judicial Notice in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Class Action
Compl., Ex. F, ECF No. 15-8 (“Label
Example”). Second, the Cold-Pressed Line uses the
term “raw” on the front label, where it appears
in a green circle that says “raw and organic, ”
Compl. ¶ 65, and on the back label, which says that
“drinking raw juice” helps maintain good health.
Label Example. Third, the Cold-Pressed Line uses the term
“Manifreshto” on the back label, id.
¶ 48, which is followed by “the simple rules
[BluePrint] live[s] by.” Label Example. One of those
rules is that “[j]uice should never be cooked. Cooking
juice reduces vitamins and live enzymes. Even
‘flash' pasteurized means cooked.” Compl.
¶ 46; Label Example. Fourth, the Cold-Pressed Line
includes a vertical list of ingredients on the front label in
large, bold text. Compl. ¶ 65; Label Example. The
ingredients on the front label are not listed in the same
order as they are on the side label. Compl. ¶¶
65-66. For example, one juice says “arugula kale apple
romaine celery cucumber lemon ginger” on the front
label. Id. ¶ 65. On the side label, under the
nutrition facts, it says: “Ingredients: organic juice
from: organic vegetables (organic romaine, organic celery,
organic arugula, organic cucumbers, organic kale), organic
apple, organic ginger, organic lemon.” Id.;
Label Example. Fifth, the Organic Line's back label says
that it is “crafted with cold pressed juice, ”
which plaintiff alleges is impossible for a beverage
containing only citrus juices. Compl. ¶¶ 21-34,
alleges that the Cold-Pressed Line is made in the following
way: First, the individual ingredients are
“cold-press[ed].” Id. ¶ 9.
“Cold pressing” means that several thousand
pounds of pressure are applied to fruits and/or vegetables to
extract their juice. Id. ¶ 10. This is in
contrast to the traditional “centrifugal” method,
in which spinning blades reduce the produce to juice.
Id. The traditional method's spinning blades
create heat that negatively affects the enzymatic and
nutritional content of the end product. Id. Cold
pressing avoids that effect. Id.
that is cold pressed has a shelf life of three to five days.
Id. ¶¶ 10, 13. To extend that shelf life
beyond five days, comply with federal regulation, and kill
potential bacteria, BluePrint subjects the juice to an
additional round of pressure. Id. ¶¶
15-16; Defs.' MTD 3-4. This process is called “high
pressure pascalization” and it does not involve heat
(unlike pasteurization, another method of preservation).
Defs.' MTD 3-4. Once the juice has undergone this second
round of pressure, it has a shelf life of six weeks.
See Compl. ¶ 36; see also Defs.'
to plaintiff, FDA regulations require that low-acid foods
(i.e., those having a total pH of greater than 4.6) undergo
heat processing. Compl. ¶ 18. Many of defendants'
juice ingredients have pHs over 4.6, including beets,
arugula, and kale. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff alleges
that defendants avoid the requirement for heat processing by
acidifying their products with lemon juice until the total pH
is 4.6 or less. Id. ¶ 19-21 & n.5, 35
(noting that each ingredients list contains “organic
juice from . . . organic lemon” or “organic lemon
juice”). Further, plaintiff states that lemon juice
cannot be obtained through cold pressing, in part because
doing so would lead to “imprecise quantities” of
peel and peel oil in the juice, which would in turn affect
the flavor. Id. ¶ 23. Once the lemon juice is
extracted, plaintiff says, it is pasteurized to
“stabiliz[e]” it. Id. ¶ 30.
According to plaintiff, “[i]t is probable that
defendants use lemon juice from third parties.”
Id. ¶ 34.
January 2018, defendants filed their motion to dismiss. Mot.
to Dismiss, ECF No. 15. They argue principally that the
complaint fails to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).
Defendants also argue that plaintiff's unjust enrichment
claim must be dismissed as duplicative of the other claims in
the complaint. Defs.' MTD 15-16. According to defendants,
an unjust enrichment claim is not available under New York
law “where it simply duplicates . . . a conventional
contract or tort claim.” Id. (quoting
Corsello v. Verizon New York, Inc., 967 N.E.2d 1177,
1185 (N.Y. 2012)). Lastly, defendants argue that plaintiff
lacks standing to seek injunctive relief, because there is no
danger that he will be deceived by defendants' alleged
misrepresentations again in the future. Id. at
move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim.
In addition, they move to dismiss plaintiff's request for
injunctive relief for lack of standing. For the reasons
discussed below, defendants' motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim is granted in part and denied in
part. Defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's
request for injunctive relief for lack of standing is
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept
all factual allegations in the complaint as true and must
draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving
party. Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. of Long Island
Inc., 711 F.3d 106, 113 (2d Cir. 2013). In deciding
defendants' motion to dismiss, the court must therefore
accept the facts alleged in plaintiff's amended complaint
as true. The complaint's allegations “must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). Only “a plausible claim for relief
survives a motion to dismiss.” LaFaro v. N.Y.
Cardiothoracic Grp., 570 F.3d 471, 476 (2d Cir. 2009).
Thus, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
N.Y. General Business Law ...