AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Class action lawsuits involving Whole Foods Greek yogurt have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the four current lawsuits from the Central District of California, the Middle District of Florida, the District of Massachusetts and the Southern District of New York be consolidated, according to the transfer order filed Dec. 10.
District judges Sarah S. Vance, Marjorie O. Rendell, Ellen Segal Huvelle, Catherine D. Perry, Lewis A. Kaplan and R. David Proctor are the judges on the panel.
"All parties support centralization, but there is a disagreement regarding the choice of an appropriate transferee district," the transfer order states.
While Whole Foods supports the Western District of Texas or the Southern District of Texas, the plaintiffs in the four lawsuits and four potential tag-alongs support centralization in the Western District of Texas or the Southern District of New York.
"On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we are persuaded that centralization under Section 1407 in the Western District of Texas will service the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation," the transfer order states.
All of the four cases are putative class actions and share factual issues arising from highly similar allegations, including that Whole Foods 365 Greek Yogurt contains much more sugar than stated on its label.
All of the plaintiffs claim Whole Foods' marketing of the yogurt was false and deceptive, and that the defendants were negligent in testing the yogurt and in ensuring that the label was accurate.
Plaintiffs in the cases claimed Whole Foods deceptively marketed its Greek yogurt as having two grams of sugar per serving when it actually had 11.4 grams of sugar per serving.
The claimed sugar content raised eyebrows because it was much lower than competitors, whose products generally ranged from between five and ten grams of sugar per serving.
Consumer Reports released a report in July regarding the actual sugar content of the Greek yogurt.
Consumer Reports analyzed six samples of the yogurt from six different lots for sugar content. The results showed an average of 11.4 grams per serving—more than five times what's listed on the label.
"Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings on class certification and other issues and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary," the transfer order states.
The panel said after weighing the relevant factors, they chose the Western District of Texas as transferee district for the litigation because Whole Foods is headquartered in the district and witnesses and relevant documents are likely to be there.
District Judge Sam Sparks will be presiding over the MDL case.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas case number: 1:14-md-02588
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.