Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc.

COMPLAINT Receipt No: 0973-22702320 - Fee: $400, filed by Plaintiff Collin Shanks.

Central District of California, cacd-2:2018-cv-09437

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3 Page ID #:1 1 THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL K. JOSEPH, PC 2 PAUL K. JOSEPH (SBN 287057) 3 paul@pauljosephlaw.com 4125 W. Pt. Loma Blvd., No. 309 4 San Diego, CA 92110 5 Phone: (619) 767-0356 Fax: (619) 331-2943 6 THE LAW OFFICE OF 7 JACK FITZGERALD, PC 8 JACK FITZGERALD (SBN 257370) jack@jackfitzgeraldlaw.com 9 TREVOR M. FLYNN (SBN 253362) 10 trevor@jackfitzgeraldlaw.com MELANIE PERSINGER (SBN 275423) 11 melanie@jackfitzgeraldlaw.com 12 Hillcrest Professional Building 3636 Fourth Avenue, Suite 202 13 San Diego, California 92103 14 Phone: (619) 692-3840 Fax: (619) 362-9555 15 Counsel for Plaintiff and the Proposed Class 16 17 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 18 19 Case No: 18-cv-9437 COLLIN SHANKS, on behalf of himself, all CLASS ACTION 20 others similarly situated, and the general 21 public, COMPLAINT FOR: 22 Plaintiff, VIOLATIONS OF CAL. BUS. & PROF. CODE §§17200 et seq.; CAL. 23 v. BUS. & PROF. CODE §§17500 et seq.; 24 JARROW FORMULAS, INC. CAL. CIV. CODE §§ 1750 et seq. 25 Defendant. DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL 26 27 28 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:2 1 Plaintiff Collin Shanks, on behalf of himself, all others similarly situated, and the 2 general public, by and through his undersigned counsel, hereby sues defendant Jarrow 3 Formulas, Inc. ("Jarrow"), and alleges the following upon his own knowledge, or where he 4 lacks personal knowledge, upon information and belief, including through the investigation 5 of his counsel. 6 INTRODUCTION 7 1. Jarrow markets various coconut oil Products with labeling claims that both 8 violate federal and California state food regulations and are misleading because, contrary to 9 the message conveyed by the challenged labeling claims, the Products are not healthy but 10 rather detriment health when consumed, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and 11 other serious illnesses. 12 2. Plaintiff relied upon Jarrow's misleading and unlawful claims when purchasing 13 Jarrow coconut oil, and was damaged as a result. He brings this action on behalf of himself, 14 all others similarly situated, and the general public, alleging violations of the California 15 Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et seq. ("CLRA"), Unfair 16 Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq. ("UCL"), and False Advertising 17 Law, id. §§ 17500 et seq. ("FAL"). 18 3. Plaintiff seeks an order, inter alia, compelling Jarrow to (a) cease marketing its 19 coconut oil Products using the misleading and unlawful tactics complained of herein, (b) 20 destroy all misleading, deceptive, and unlawful materials, (c) conduct a corrective advertising 21 campaign, (d) restore the amounts by which it has been unjustly enriched, and (e) pay 22 restitution, damages, and punitive damages as allowed by law. 23 PARTIES 24 4. Plaintiff Colin Shanks is a resident of West Covina California and a citizen of 25 California. 26 5. Defendant Jarrow Formulas, Inc. is a California Corporation, with its principal 27 place of business in Los Angeles, California. 28 1 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:3 1 JURISDICTION & VENUE 2 6. This Court has original jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2) 3 (The Class Action Fairness Act) because the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value 4 of $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and because more than two-thirds of the 5 members of the Class reside in states other than the states of which Defendant is a citizen. 6 7. The Court has personal jurisdiction over Jarrow because it's principal place of 7 business is in Los Angeles, it has significant, systematic, and continuous business operations 8 in California, and has purposely availed itself of the benefits and privileges of conducting 9 business activities within California. 10 8. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because Plaintiff 11 resides in and suffered injuries as a result of Defendant's acts in this District, many of the 12 acts and transactions giving rise to this action occurred in this District, and Defendant (1) is 13 authorized to conduct business in this District, (2) has intentionally availed themselves of the 14 laws and markets of this District through the promotion, marketing, distribution, and sale of 15 the Products in this District, and (3) are subject to personal jurisdiction in this District. 16 FACTS 17 I. Saturated Fat Consumption Increases the Risk of Cardiovascular Heart Disease 18 and Other Morbidity 19 The Role of Cholesterol in the Human Body 20 9. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the body's cell walls. The body 21 uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other substances. The body 22 synthesizes all the cholesterol it needs, which circulates in the bloodstream in packages called 23 lipoproteins, of which there are two main kinds—low density lipoproteins, or LDL 24 cholesterol, and high density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol. 25 10. LDL cholesterol is sometimes called "bad" cholesterol because it carries 26 cholesterol to tissues, including the arteries. Most cholesterol in the blood is LDL cholesterol. 27 11. HDL cholesterol is sometimes called "good" cholesterol because it takes excess 28 cholesterol away from tissues to the liver, where it is removed from the body. 2 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:4 1 High Total and LDL Blood Cholesterol Levels are Associated with 2 Increased Risk of Morbidity, Including Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke 3 12. Total and LDL cholesterol blood levels are two of the most important risk factors 4 in predicting coronary heart disease (CHD), with higher total and LDL cholesterol levels 5 associated with increased risk of CHD.1 6 13. High LDL cholesterol levels are dangerous because "[e]levated blood LDL 7 cholesterol increases atherosclerotic lipid accumulation in blood vessels."2 That is, if there is 8 too much cholesterol in the blood, some of the excess may become trapped along artery walls. 9 Built up formations of cholesterol on arteries and blood vessels are called plaque. Plaque 10 narrows vessels and makes them less flexible, a condition called atherosclerosis. 11 14. This process can happen to the coronary arteries in the heart and restricts the 12 provision of oxygen and nutrients to the heart, causing chest pain or angina. 13 15. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries, the condition is called 14 coronary heart disease. 15 16. Cholesterol-rich plaques can also burst, causing a blood clot to form over the 16 plaque, blocking blood flow through arteries, which in turn can cause an often-deadly or 17 debilitating heart attack or stroke. 18 19 20 1 See, e.g., Dr. Dustin Randolph, Coconut Oil Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risk and 21 Possible Death Due to Heart Attacks and Stroke (Sept. 19, 2015) ("Heart attack and stroke 22 risk can be largely predicted based on total and LDL cholesterol levels in people" because "as cholesterol levels increase so does one's risk of symptomatic and deadly heart disease."), 23 available at http://www.pursueahealthyyou.com/2015/04/coconut-oil-increases- 24 cardiovascular.html. 2 25 USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Dietary Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Health: A Review of the Evidence, Nutrition Insight 44 (July 2011) 26 [hereinafter, "USDA, Review of the Evidence"], available at 27 http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/nutrition_insights_uploads/Insight44.pdf. 28 3 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:5 1 17. Thus, "[f]or the health of your heart, lowering your LDL cholesterol is the single 2 most important thing to do."3 3 Saturated Fat Consumption Causes Increased Total and LDL Blood 4 Cholesterol Levels, Increasing the Risk of CHD and Stroke 5 18. The consumption of saturated fat negatively affects blood cholesterol levels 6 because the body reacts to saturated fat by producing cholesterol. More specifically, saturated 7 fat consumption causes coronary heart disease by, among other things, "increas[ing] total 8 cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol."4 9 19. Moreover, "[t]here is a positive linear trend between total saturated fatty acid 10 intake and total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and increased 11 risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)."5 12 20. This linear relationship between saturated fat intake and risk of coronary heart 13 disease is well established and accepted in the scientific community. 14 21. For example, the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Guidelines Advisory 15 Committee "concluded there is strong evidence that dietary [saturated fatty acids] SFA 16 increase serum total and LDL cholesterol and are associated with increased risk of 17 [cardiovascular disease] CVD."6 18 22. In addition, "[s]everal hundred studies have been conducted to assess the effect 19 of saturated fatty acids on serum cholesterol concentration. In general, the higher the intake 20 3 21 Pritikin Longevity Center, Is Coconut Oil Bad for You?, available at https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/1790-is-coconut-oil-bad- 22 for-you.html. 23 4 USDA Review of the Evidence, supra n.2. 24 5 Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, 25 Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids, at 422 (2005) [hereinafter "IOM, Dietary 26 Reference Intakes"], available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10490. 6 27 USDA Review of the Evidence, supra n.2. 28 4 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:6 1 of saturated fatty acids, the higher the serum total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) 2 cholesterol concentrations."7 3 23. Importantly, there is "no safe level" of saturated fat intake because "any 4 incremental increase in saturated fatty acid intake increases CHD risk."8 5 24. For this reason, while the Institute of Medicine sets tolerable upper intake levels 6 (UL) for the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse 7 health effects to almost all individuals in the general population, "[a] UL is not set for 8 saturated fatty acids."9 9 25. In addition, "[t]here is no evidence to indicate that saturated fatty acids are 10 essential in the diet or have a beneficial role in the prevention of chronic diseases."10 11 26. Further, "[i]t is generally accepted that a reduction in the intake of SFA 12 [saturated fatty acids] will lower TC [total cholesterol] and LDL-cholesterol."11 13 27. For these reasons, "reduction in SFA intake has been a key component of dietary 14 recommendations to reduce risk of CVD."12 15 16 17 18 19 20 7 IOM, Dietary Reference Intakes, supra n.5, at 481. 21 8 Id. at 422. 22 9 23 Id. 10 24 Id. at 460. 25 11 Shanthi Mendis et al., Coconut fat and serum lipoproteins: effects of partial replacement 26 with unsaturated fats, 85 Brit. J. Nutr. 583, 583 (2001) [hereinafter "Mendis, Coconut fat"]. 12 27 USDA Review of the Evidence, supra n.2. 28 5 Shanks v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT 3 Page ID #:7 1 28. The Institute of Medicine's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for example, 2 "recommend reducing SFA intake to less than 10 percent of calories."13 And "lowering the 3 percentage of calories from dietary SFA to 7 percent can further reduce the risk of CVD."14 4 29. In short, consuming saturated fat increases the risk of CHD and stroke.15 5 In Contrast to Saturated Fat, the Consumption of Dietary Cholesterol has 6 No Impact on Blood Cholesterol Levels 7 30. For many years, there has been a common misperception that dietary cholesterol 8 affects blood cholesterol levels. According to the USDA and Department of Health and 9 Human Services (DHHS), however, "available evidence shows no appreciable relationship 10 between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol."16 11 31. In fact,