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Syeda F. Lateef, Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. Pharmavite LLC

October 24, 2012

SYEDA F. LATEEF, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHARMAVITE LLC, OTSUKA, PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. AND OTSUKA AMERICA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Now before the Court is Defendant Pharmavite, LLC's ("Pharmavite") motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Syeda F. Lateef ("Lateef") is a resident of Cook County, Illinois, and a practicing member of the Muslim faith. As a Muslim, Lateef adheres to certain dietary restrictions that prohibit her from eating certain animal-based food products, including pork and pork byproducts. Pharmavite is a Northridge, California-based limited liability company. It manufactures, markets, and sells nutritional supplements ("supplements") -- letter vitamins, flax seed oil, and herbal supplements, for example -- under the Nature Made brand name. Lateef alleges that Nature Made supplements contain pork and other animal-based byproducts, that Nature Made labels failed to list these byproducts as an ingredient despite representations on the label and Pharmavite's website ("website") that Pharmavite is a trustworthy company, and that Lateef purchased a bottle of Nature Made supplements as a consequence of this alleged deception.

In March of 2012, Lateef purchased a bottle of Nature Made Vitamin D3 1000 IU Tablets ("Vitamin D") from a pharmacy retailer. Prior to purchasing the Vitamin D, Lateef read the list of ingredients on the product's label to ensure that the supplements did not contain pork byproducts. The label listed eight ingredients, none of which were included animal-based byproducts. Her decision to purchase the Vitamin D was based on the absence of any animal-based ingredients on the product label. The complaint maintains that the Vitamin D tablets were coated with gelatin. Gelatin is manufactured in part with extracts from animal byproducts: specifically from cattle, chicken, and pigs.

Web-Based Marketing

Lateef alleges that the website attempts to bolster Pharmavite's trustworthiness to consumers. She highlights several lengthy passages from the website that seek to accomplish this end. In relevant part, the website states:

* Nature Made, manufactured by Pharmavite, LLC, is one example of a brand that goes above and beyond to guarantee to consumers that what is on the label is in the bottle.

* We have been proud of our choices about our products, but in the past we have made many of these decisions with less explanation than our consumers and customers would like. We are making a commitment to change that. We are making a new commitment to you on the transparency and openness of our decisions, our actions, and the straight facts regarding the vitamin and supplement category as a whole.

* We know that the first key step is communicating more of our choices and actions regarding our products publicly, including potentially complex but important details of our products.

* We make sure consumers can trust what they're putting into their body.

* When ingredients arrive, they are tested for identity, and we continue verification at every stage of the manufacturing process to ensure we meet or exceed industry standards . . . .

Lateef filed this four-count putative class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and other Illinois residents who purchased Nature Made supplements. She claims that by failing to represent that the supplements contained an animal-based byproduct, Pharmavite is liable for three state law claims -- (Count I) the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Fraud Act ("ICFA"), 815 ILCS 505/2; (Count II) breach of express warranty in violation of 810 ILCS 5/2-313; and (Count III) unjust enrichment -- and one federal claim for violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. ยง 203 et seq. Pharmavite now brings this motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule ...


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