Astiana v. Hain Celestial Group

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Preemption
  • Date Filed: 04-10-2015
  • Case #: 12-17596
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Chief Judge Thomas and Circuit Judge Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

A state cause of action, based on federal cosmetic labeling laws, is not preempted by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and therefore, the primary jurisdiction doctrine should be utilized.

The Hain Celestial Group and JÂSÖN Natural Products (“Hain") manufacture cosmetic products, advertised as “pure natural” or “all natural.” Skye Astiana, Tamar Davis Larsen, and Mary Littlehale (“Astiana") filed suit, alleging that she was deceived by the labeling of Hain, because the Hain products contained synthetic and artificial material, and therefore, she purchased the products under false pretenses. She sought relief and damages under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a California false advertising law. Hain filed two motions to dismiss the complaint asserting that restitution is not a stand alone cause of action, and the state law claims were preempted under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FCDA) does not preempt state causes of action. Additionally, while restitution is not a standalone cause of action, it can be inferred as a cause for relief under a quasi-contract. Therefore, Astiana’s state law claims may proceed. Further, the panel explained that the district court erred in dismissing the case, and should have allowed the case to be heard before the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) under the primary jurisdiction doctrine, given that the FDA is more qualified to decide this matter. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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