Greetings, August! These are called the Dog Days of Summer, but a lot more gets done this month than you might think. Sure, we usually take our vacation in August. And yes, there are some especially silly official days in August, e.g. Wiggle Your Toes Day (6th), Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s
S.D. Cal. Shows No Love for Aphrodisiac Class Certification
A class action claiming that a diet supplement was falsely advertised as being an aphrodisiac cries out for bad jokes and silly puns. Are we above all that? Er… sure. The supplement is called IntenseX. (Get it? Why don’t we ever see such clever marketing in law firm websites?) The case is called Sandoval v. Pharmacare US, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140717 (S.D. Cal. June 10, 2016). The lead plaintiffs were from California and Florida. Both alleged breaches of express and implied warranty, violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and violation of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The plaintiffs sought certification of a nationwide class of disappointed IntenseX users. The plaintiffs also grumbled that they would accept California and Florida classes as alternatives. The court denied class certification, so there was a happy ending. The court did so after marching through the Rule 23 analysis in a logical, straightforward fashion, so the bits leading up to the climactic noncertification were also happiness-inducing, if not intense.
As usual, the plaintiffs could establish numerosity and (more controversially) ascertainability. Just as usual, the plaintiffs could not establish that common issues predominated over individual ones. The plaintiffs asserted that common to all claims for all class members was whether the representations about aphrodisiac effects were likely to deceive a “reasonable consumer.” But an inference of reliance was not available in this case because there was no evidence that consumers had been exposed to a widespread, long-term marketing campaign. (The court drew a contrast to advertising for tobacco, a product we wanted to use immediately after reading this case.) What’s more, there was no evidence of any shared understanding among consumers as to the promised effects of IntenseX. Even if there was a way to characterize the promise of IntenseX marketing in some general way, the court ruled that the plaintiffs “did not present sufficient evidence that IntenseX is incapable of producing the promised effects.” What would such evidence look like? Even if there were declarations by some disappointed users recounting their sad experiences with IntenseX (think of a bizarro-world version of Dear Penthouse Forum letters), would they truly establish a causal nexus? Consider all the comorbidities that might account for why consumers couldn’t get any satisfaction. Maybe they misplaced their Lionel Richie records, or showed up on date-night wearing socks with sandals.…
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