April 30, 2012 Articles

Mazza's Impact on False-Advertising Class Actions

The case will likely make it more difficult to certify consumer class actions for false advertising under California law, unless they involve a huge marketing campaign.

By Kelsey M. Larson and Carlos M. Lazatin

Today’s consumer products advertising appears saturated with claims of health and fitness benefits—from vitamins that “support prostate health” (Johns v. Bayer Healthcare, LLC, No. 09-CV-1935-AJB, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13410, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 3, 2012)) and shoes designed to tone hamstrings, calves, and butts more than regular sneakers (Altieri v. Reebok Int’l, Ltd., Amended Class-Action Complaint, No. 4:10-CV-11977-FDS (D. Mass) at ¶ 22) to supplements that enhance a person’s immune system (Gianino v. Alacer Corp., No. SACV-09-01247-CJC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32261, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2012)) or provide “great digestion through science” (Rikos v. The Procter & Gamble Co., No. 1:11-CV-226, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25104, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 28, 2012)). The companies that manufacture, market, and sell these products and tout these benefits often find themselves named as defendants in class-action lawsuits that challenge the accuracy of these health-benefit claims. Traditionally, California has been a favorite jurisdiction for the class-action plaintiff’s bar to file such false-advertising lawsuits, with its perceived plaintiff-friendly consumer-protection laws. However, plaintiffs may want to think twice before deciding to file a false-advertising class action in federal court in California in light of the Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Mazza v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 666 F.3d 581 (9th Cir. 2012).

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