Law Street Media

D.C. District Court Grants Clean Label Project Foundation’s Motion to Remand in Case Against Abbott Labs

An Abbott Laboratories building in California.

Oct 15, 2019 Sunnyvale / CA / USA - Abbott Laboratories headquarters in Silicon Valley; Abbott Laboratories is an American medical devices and health care company

On Wednesday, the D.C. District Court issued an opinion granting the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to D.C. Superior Court in Clean Label Project Foundation v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc.

According to the order, the Clean Label Project Foundation is a non-profit public interest organization whose mission is to educate the public and enable consumers to make informed shopping choices. Further, the complaint states that Abbott Labs is a manufacturer and seller of infant formula products, including the well-known brands like Similac and Alimentum.

In September 2021, the plaintiffs said, they purchased Abbott Labs ‘Alimentum formula and found dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in the product. The plaintiffs allege that the lead and cadmium contamination is incompatible with the defendant’s descriptions of Alimentum as promoting “brain development,” “bone development” and “immune support.” 

The plaintiffs therefore initiated the present lawsuit on October 1, 2021, by filing a complaint in  D.C. Superior Court alleging a single count the Abbott Labs violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). Specifically, the Clean Label Project alleges that because Alimentum contains detectable amounts of lead and cadmium, the defendant’s labeling misleads consumers. On December 10, 2021, the defendant timely filed a Notice of Removal to the D.C. District Court, and the plaintiff filed the present motion to remand on January 10, 2022. 

The court describes the present case as “quirky,” stating that its not a product safety case but about whether an unsafe component of a product renders it’s labeling misleading, not about federal law, but looks to federal agency guidance, not a class action but brought by a representative named plaintiff organization on behalf of a large number of non-participating members, and although the plaintiff does not seek money damages, the pleadings could require the expenditure of substantial funds. 

The court notes that although this case touches upon several issues that could grant an independent basis for removal to federal jurisdiction, they all slightly miss the mark. Specifically, the court states the defendant argues this case has a basis for removal because it raises substantial questions of federal law, diversity jurisdiction lies under the Class Action Fairness Act and even if CAFA is inapplicable and only a single plaintiff is named, the parties are completely diverse, and the $75,000 amount in controversy threshold is met by considering the expected total cost of injunctive relief. 

However, the court states that the complaint does not allege that the Alimentum product or its labeling violates federal law, the case is not a class action for CAFA purposes, the complaint does not seek money damages to meet the amount in controversy requirement, and the two parties are not diverse because both are incorporated in Delaware. Therefore, the D.C. District Court granted the Clean Label Project’s motion to remand to the D.C. Superior Court. 

The plaintiff is represented by Oliver-Zhang Law, and the defendant is represented by Winston & Strawn LLP. 

Exit mobile version