CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) – A food manufacturer faced with a class action lawsuit for allegedly selling a highly lead-tainted product filed a motion to dismiss in April.

In December, Pamela Caudle sued Gel Spice Co. Inc., Big Lots Stores Inc., and Grocery Outlet Inc. (Gel Spice) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging they sold turmeric containing high amounts of lead through Big Lots and Grocery Outlet stores (the latter was later dismissed from the class action).

Gel Spice recalled a turmeric powder brand in July 2016 after a sampling analysis by the New York Department of Agriculture showed the contamination. The recall was expanded months later to include additional brands.

Caudle sued, alleging Gel Spice’s website claims of having high-quality products tested in their in-house labs led her to believe its turmeric was healthy and safe for purchase. She alleged they broke this “promise” when they sold a tainted product and that Big Lots “rebranded” and sold it to her and other consumers, unbeknownst to them. 

She claimed violations under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and other counts and requested a trial by jury, and punitive damages and restitution, among others.

Gel Spice filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice on all counts, stating multiple reasons for discharge. 

It claimed she failed to meet the required notice of claim prior to filing a complaint. It also alleged she didn’t provide a feasible claim with specifics enough to warrant a cause of action, did not have any standing (including Article III), or could prove she’d suffered a loss as a result of its product. 

Because Caudle didn’t state a specific time or purpose for purchasing the product, it had no way of knowing this unspecified reason or could defend it. She also didn’t satisfy an injury that could be restored with damages, it said.

Additionally, because she allegedly failed to show why its statements about good quality products were false, or even how the general public was deceived by these assertions, she couldn’t prove any member class claim was connected to these alleged misrepresentations. 

Further, other plaintiffs allegedly didn’t provide information to warrant their specific complaint but were lumped together under vague and generic allegations. For these reasons and more, Gel Spice requested motion to dismiss with prejudice.

The defense is represented by Cheryl Chang, Jonathan Loeb, Ghazal Tajmiri of Blank Rome LLP in Los Angeles. Plaintiff is represented by Paul Hanly Jr., Deborah Rosenthal and Mitchell Breit of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC in San Francisco and Gregory F. Coleman of Greg Coleman Law PC in Knoxville, Tennessee.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division case number 4:16-cv-07146-JSW

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division
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