Judge Dale S. Fischer of the Central District of California ruled on Monday that The Kraft Heinz Company cannot dismiss a complaint claiming that its Crystal Light drink products are falsely advertised. The products allegedly contain synthetic DL-Malic Acid which the plaintiffs, Narguess Noohi and Robert Bryce Stewart III, claimed in their class action complaint is an artificial flavor.
The Kraft Heinz Company and Kraft Heinz Ingredients Corp., represented by Jenner & Block, claimed in its arguments to dismiss the case that the plaintiffs claims were not sufficient because they did not “adequately allege” that Crystal Light’s DL-Malic Acid was an artificial flavor or that Kraft Heinz “intended to induce reliance.” According to Judge Fischer, the complaint meets the legal standard because the plaintiffs sufficiently claimed that the malic acid was both artificial and a flavor, not solely a flavoring agent.
The case began in December 2019, but the Amended Class Action Complaint, which Kraft Heinz moved to dismiss, was filed in April. The plaintiffs, represented by the Law Office of Todd M. Friedman, claimed they were “misled” and purchased the Crystal Light when they would not have purchased it if they knew it contained artificial flavors. They alleged that the defendants violated California’s False Advertising Act and Unfair Business Practices Act and participated in fraud, unjust enrichment, and negligent representation along with other similar allegations.
The defendants also claimed that the court did not have jurisdiction over class members outside of the State of California because the class in the case is nationwide. Kraft Heinz asked for any claims on behalf of members in other states to be dismissed, but the judge in his Order cited multiple instances where judges have considered cases that include class members outside their jurisdiction. “It is premature to determine whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over putative claims brought by putative class members who are not yet parties to this action,” Judge Fischer said.