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Astiana v. Hain Celestial Grp., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

February 10, 2015, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; April 10, 2015, Filed

No. 12-17596

Opinion

 [*756]  McKEOWN, Circuit Judge:

A product labeled "all natural" or "pure natural" likely evokes images of ground herbs and earth extracts rather [**3]  than chemicals such as "Polysorbate 20" or "Hydroxycitronellal." This class action alleges that false or misleading product labels duped consumers seeking natural cosmetics into purchasing products that were chock-full of artificial and synthetic ingredients. Although the underlying question of what constitutes a "natural" cosmetic poses a fascinating question, it is not the one we answer. Instead, this appeal requires us to decide whether federal preemption or the primary jurisdiction doctrine prevents the district court from deciding when a "natural" label on cosmetic products is false or misleading.

We conclude that ] the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 301 et seq. ("FDCA"), does not expressly preempt California's state law causes of action that create consumer remedies for false or misleading cosmetics labels. Although the district court properly invoked the primary jurisdiction doctrine, it erred by dismissing the case rather than issuing a stay pending potential agency action by the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"). On remand, the district court may consider whether events during the pendency of this appeal have changed the calculus on whether further FDA proceedings are necessary. [**4] 

Background

The Hain Celestial Group and JÂSÖN Natural Products (collectively "Hain") make moisturizing lotion, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and other cosmetics products. Hain labels these products "All Natural," "Pure Natural," or "Pure, Natural & Organic."

Skye Astiana, Tamar Davis Larsen, and Mary Littlehale (collectively "Astiana") filed a putative nationwide class action claiming that they were deceived into purchasing Hain's cosmetics, which contain allegedly synthetic and artificial ingredients ranging from benzyl alcohol to airplane anti-freeze. Astiana claims she likely would not have purchased—and certainly would not have paid the going price for—Hain's cosmetics had she been aware of their synthetic and artificial contents. Astiana sought injunctive relief and damages under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, California's unfair competition and false advertising laws, and common law theories of fraud and quasi-contract.

Hain filed two motions to dismiss the complaint. First, it moved to partially dismiss the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). As relevant here, the district court dismissed the quasi-contract cause of action, noting that "while restitution is available as a remedy for plaintiffs' [**5]  other causes of action, it is not a standalone cause of action in California and is nonsensical as pled in any event."2

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783 F.3d 753 *; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5833 **

SKYE ASTIANA; TAMAR DAVIS LARSEN, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. THE HAIN CELESTIAL GROUP, INC., a Delaware corporation; JASON NATURAL PRODUCTS, INC., a California corporation, Defendants-Appellees.

Subsequent History: On remand at, Stay granted by Astiana v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138496 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 9, 2015)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 4:11-cv-06342-PJH. Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief District Judge, Presiding.

Astiana v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., 905 F. Supp. 2d 1013, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165368 (N.D. Cal., 2012)

Disposition: REVERSED and REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

labeling, cosmetics, primary jurisdiction, district court, cause of action, misleading, products, proceedings, quasi-contract, regulations, preempt, invoke, restitution, ingredients, doctrine of primary jurisdiction, state law, preemption, food, state law claim, correspondence, manufacturers, enrichment, consumers, referral, matters, courts

Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive Labeling & Packaging, Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, State Regulation, Constitutional Law, Supremacy Clause, Federal Preemption, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Primary Jurisdiction, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Quasi Contracts, Contracts Law, Remedies, Restitution, Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint