EAST ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel denied remand to plaintiffs in a "not natural" class action against Campbell Soup Co.
Lead plaintiffs Danielle Schwartz and Haunah Vanlaningham, represented by David Nelson of Belleville, Matthew H. Armstrong of Armstrong Law in St. Louis and L. Kirstine Rogers of Steckler Gresham Cochran in Dallas, originally filed suit in June in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
They allege that “Campbell Soup was unjustly enriched and violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act (ICFA) … by deceptively and falsely representing that its soups were not made with preservatives.”
The proposed class would include Illinois customers who bought the company’s “Slow Kettle Style” tomato & sweet basil bisque, roasted red pepper & smoked gouda bisque, New England clam chowder, “Home Style” harvest tomato with basil, zesty tomato and/or “Home Style Healthy Request” harvest tomato with basil products anytime in the five-year period before the lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County.
They want the court to order Campbell Soup to reimburse the class members for the cost of the soup, as well as pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and court costs.
Vanlaningham claims she paid $2.49 for one of the soups in question and Schwartz paid $3.89 for another. Both prices are considered “typical of [what] all class members” paid for the different soups.
In removing the case to federal court, Campbell Soup invoked the court's jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
However, lawyers for Schwartz and Vanlaningham - who have filed dozens of other similar cases - asked that the case be moved back to the circuit court, arguing that the amount of damages sought does not meet the minimum $5 million required for the U.S. court to have jurisdiction. They attempted to argue that the model used by Campbell Soup to calculate the potential claims amount was incorrect.
“The plaintiffs maintain Campbell fails to offer any proof of the accurate measure of damages, which is the difference in value of the soups as represented and as sold,” Rosenstengel said in her Jan. 8 order. “Despite these arguments, Campbell has sufficiently proven that the potential damages in this case meet CAFA’s amount-in-controversy requirement.”