Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Muir v. Nature's Bounty De, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 1, 2018

MICHAEL MUIR, MELISSA BOWERS, REGINA CORBIN, COLLEEN GAINES, and DONNA BENGEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATURE'S BOUNTY DE, INC., REXALL SUNDOWN, LLC, and PURITAN'S PRIDE, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          REBECCA R. PALLMEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is Plaintiff Michael Muir's third attempt to plead individual and class allegations of consumer fraud and unjust enrichment arising from his and proposed class members' purchases of the dietary supplement St. John's Wort. The court dismissed Muir's original complaint insofar as it asserted claims against manufacturers whose products Muir did not purchase. See Muir v. NBTY, Inc., No. 15 C 9835, 2016 WL 5234596 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 22, 2016). Muir amended his complaint to name only one manufacturer-Nature's Bounty, Inc.-as a defendant, but the court dismissed both his nationwide class allegations (due to relevant conflicts in state unjust-enrichment laws) and his multi-state class allegations (due to Muir's lack of standing to assert claims under the consumer fraud statutes of states where he did not purchase St. John's Wort). See Muir v. Nature's Bounty, Inc., No. 15 C 9835, 2017 WL 4310650 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2017).

         In a Second Amended Class Complaint [60], four new plaintiffs now join Muir in seeking damages-individually and on behalf of a multi-state class of certain persons who purchased St. John's Wort in Illinois, California, Michigan, or Pennsylvania-from Nature's Bounty and two additional corporate Defendants. In the alternative, Plaintiffs propose four subclasses of persons who purchased St. John's Wort in one of each of these states.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss all the claims in the Second Amended Class Complaint except those that Muir himself asserts under Illinois law. For the reasons explained below, Defendants' motion [62] is granted in part and denied in part. The individual claims of the non-Illinois Plaintiffs are dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants' motion is otherwise denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant Nature's Bounty (DE), Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business located at 110 Orville Drive in Bohemia, New York. (Second Am. Compl. [hereafter “SAC”] ¶ 19.) Nature's Bounty manufactures and sells a product that Plaintiffs refer to as “Nature's Bounty St. John's Wort Standardized Extract.” (Id. at ¶ 14.) Defendant Rexall Sundown, LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation whose principal place of business is also located at 110 Orville Drive in Bohemia, New York, manufactures and sells “Sundown Naturals St. John's Wort Standardized Extract.”[1] (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 20.) Defendant Puritan's Pride, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Holbrook, New York, manufactures and sells “Puritan's Pride St. John's Wort Standardized Extract.” (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 21.) According to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, “Defendants formulated, manufactured, warranted, advertised and sold the Products in Chicago, Illinois, throughout the State of Illinois, and throughout the United States.” (Id. at ¶ 4.) The pleadings do not make clear the precise relationship between the three Defendants. Nature's Bounty's website lists “Puritan's Pride” and “Sundown Naturals” as parts of a “broad portfolio of well-known brands” under which Nature's Bounty “markets its products.” (Aff. of Richard S. Wilson, Ex. A to Pls.' Resp. Br. [66-1]; http://www.naturesbountyco.com/ ourcompany/corporate-overview, (accessed Aug. 1, 2018).) In their Reply brief, Defendants appear to concede that the companies “share a corporate parent.” (Defs.' Reply [68], at 6.)

         Plaintiff Michael Muir is a resident of Lake Zurich, Illinois. (Id. at ¶ 14.) In or around July 2015, Muir purchased Nature's Bounty St. John's Wort Standardized Extract from the retailer Walgreens.[2] (Id.) Plaintiff Melissa Bowers, also a resident of Illinois, “has purchased” Puritan's Pride St. John's Wort Standardized Extract “for many years.” (Id. at ¶ 15.) Plaintiff Regina Corbin resides in California and purchased Puritan's Pride St. John's Word Standardized Extract at some point between November 2015 and November 2017. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff Colleen Gaines resides in Michigan and purchased both Nature's Bounty St. John's Wort Standardized Extract and Sundown Naturals St. John's Wort Standardized Extract at some point between November 2015 and November 2017. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff Donna Bengen resides in Pennsylvania and “has been purchasing” both Nature's Bounty St. John's Wort Standardized Extract and Sundown Naturals St. John's Wort Standardized Extract “for at least 17 years.” (Id. at ¶ 18.)

         The front labels on each of the products at issue prominently display the words “Standardized Extract.” (Id. at ¶ 28.) On the back of each product's label, the following text appears under the heading “Supplement Facts”: “Standardized to contain 0.3% Hypericin, 0.9 mg.” (Id. at ¶ 29.) In fact, Plaintiffs allege, each of the relevant products “contain[s] different amounts of Hypericin, and all are far below the amount listed on the label.” (Id. at ¶ 29.) Plaintiffs have attached exhibits to the Second Amended Complaint that show that a company called ChromaDex examined samples of “Nature's Bounty St. John's Wort, ” “Sundown Naturals St. John's Wort, ” and “Puritan's Pride St. John's Wort, ” and found that the amount of “Total Hypericin” in the samples ranged from 0.166 mg to 0.615 mg per “serving.” (Exs. A-C to SAC.) According to Plaintiffs, “scientific literature” demonstrates that St. John's Wort only provides “benefits” when a person ingests at least 0.9 mg of Hypericin each day. (SAC ¶ 33.) Plaintiffs therefore would not have purchased Defendants' products “if they had known that they had a significantly lower quantity of the Standardized Extract Hypericin than was stated on the Products' labels.” (Id. at ¶ 37.)

         Defendants have moved to dismiss all the claims in Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint “other than those asserted by Michael Muir under Illinois law against Nature's Bounty.” (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss 14.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. Personal jurisdiction

         Defendants first argue that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over any of them with regard to the claims asserted by the non-Illinois Plaintiffs. The doctrine of personal jurisdiction governs the scope of states' authority to bind non-resident defendants to the judgments of their courts. Walden v. Fiore, 134 S.Ct. 1115, 1121 (2014). Unless a federal statute provides otherwise, a federal court's jurisdiction over a defendant's person is determined by the law of the state in which it sits. Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693, 700 (7th Cir. 2010). Illinois law permits a court to “exercise jurisdiction to the full extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Brook v. McCormley, 873 F.3d 549, 552 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing 735 ILCS 5/2-209(c)). Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction, though they “need only make out a prima facie case” where the court has not held an evidentiary hearing on the subject. Northern Grain Marketing, LLC v. Greving, 743 F.3d 487, 491 (7th Cir. 2014). In considering whether Plaintiffs have met this burden, the court accepts well-pleaded facts as true and resolves factual disputes in Plaintiffs' favor. Id.

         “The nature of the defendant's contacts with the forum state determines the propriety of personal jurisdiction and also its scope.” Tamburo, 601 F.3d at 701. Where a defendant is not physically present in the forum state, but the defendant's contacts with that state are “so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render [the defendant] essentially at home” there, courts in the forum state have “general jurisdiction . . . to hear any and all claims” against that defendant. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). Even if the defendant is not “essentially at home” in the forum state, a court may assert “specific jurisdiction” if the defendant's “suit-related conduct . . . create[s] a substantial connection with the forum State.” Walden, 134 S.Ct. at 1121. Specific jurisdiction is available “whenever the cause of action arises out of or relates to the contacts between the defendant and the forum.” Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 427 (1984).

         In this case, Plaintiffs do not argue that the court has general jurisdiction over any Defendant. Defendants, in turn, do not dispute the existence of specific jurisdiction for claims brought by persons who purchased the relevant products in Illinois. Defendants do dispute the existence of specific jurisdiction vwith regard to the claims of persons who purchased those products outside of Illinois. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), Defendants suggest, forecloses any possible argument that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.