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Tarzian v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co.

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

October 9, 2019

KATRINA TARZIAN and SENIA HARDWICK, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
KRAFT HEINZ FOODS COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles P. Kocoras United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant Kraft Heinz Foods Company's (“Kraft”) motion to dismiss Plaintiffs Katrina Tarzian and Senia Hardwicks' (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) class-action complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         For purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true the following facts from the amended complaint. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). All reasonable inferences are drawn in Plaintiffs' favor. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Kraft is a limited-liability company organized under the laws of Pennsylvania with its principal places of business in Pittsburg and Chicago. It is a large-scale food manufacturer that markets to all states, including Illinois and New York. Kraft produces “Capri Sun” beverages in a wide variety of flavors. Plaintiff Katrina Tarzian (“Tarzian”) is an Illinois citizen and a resident of Cook County. Plaintiff Senia Hardwick (“Hardwick”) is a citizen of New York State and a resident of Queens County. Plaintiffs Tarzian and Hardwick both purchased 10-packs of Capri Sun beverages bearing a label stating the products contain “no artificial preservatives.” Plaintiffs allege these claims are “deceptive and misleading, ” as Capri Sun beverages contain citric acid, a preservative alleged to be artificially produced on an industrial scale.

         Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that citric acid can be produced in several ways. Until the early 1900s, citric acid was mainly produced by extraction from fresh fruits, such as lemons and limes. In 1917, researcher James Currie discovered that citric acid could be produced by “cultivating Aspergillus Niger and allowing it to metabolize sucrose or glucose to yield citric acid.” Plaintiffs do not specifically allege that Kraft uses citric acid produced through Aspergillus Niger fermentation; rather, they allege that it is more economically viable to produce citric acid for industrial use through this fermentation process. They further allege that Capri Sun contains industrially produced citric acid.

         As a result of Kraft's allegedly misleading labeling, Plaintiffs allege that they sustained an injury by being denied the benefit of their bargain. They assert that they would not have purchased the Capri Sun beverages had they known that the drinks contained citric acid.

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs filed their first amended class action complaint on March 03, 2019. Count I asserts violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (“ICFA”) and seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief on behalf of a nationwide class (“nonresident Plaintiffs”).[1] 805 ILCS §§ 505/1 et seq. Count II asserts violations of New York's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and seeks injunctive relief on behalf of a New York class under New York's General Business Law (“NY GBL”) § 349. Count III asserts violations of New York's False Advertising Law and seeks monetary damages on behalf of the New York class and Plaintiff Hardwick. On March 21, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss all three counts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.” McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012). The allegations in the complaint must set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiffs need not provide detailed factual allegations but must provide enough factual support to raise their right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         A claim must be facially plausible, meaning that the pleadings must “allow . . . the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint that contains factual allegations that are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability . . . stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. at 677 (internal quotations omitted). The claim must be described “in sufficient detail to give the defendant ‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are insufficient to withstand a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         A party “must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud.” Fed. R. Civ.P. 9(b). That fraud must be pled with particularity “ensures that plaintiffs do their homework before filing suit and protects defendants from baseless suits that tarnish reputations.” Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. Retiree Med. Ben. Trust v. Walgreen Co., 631 F.3d 436, 439 (7th Cir. 2011). The requirement is not rigid, and what must be alleged will vary depending on the facts of the case. Id. at 442. The heightened pleading standard applies to all allegations of fraud (such as a misrepresentation), not merely claims labeled fraud. Id. at 447.

         DISCUSSION

         Kraft urges the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs' class-action complaint for three reasons. First, Kraft argues that the ICFA does not apply to Plaintiffs injured outside of Illinois. Second, Kraft argues Plaintiffs lack standing to seek injunctive relief for their claims. Third, Kraft argues Plaintiffs have ...


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