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January 18, 2013
ALABAMA Citrus World Inc.'s Florida's Natural Orange Juice this month prevailed as the defendant in an Alabama lawsuit that alleged consumers don't know the product isn't freshly squeezed.
John Albert Veal, Jr. lacked "standing" because he "failed to state an actual, concrete injury," U.S. District Judge Inge Prytz Johnson wrote in a 25-page memorandum opinion. The judge also denied the plaintiff's request to amend a third complaint, finding that granting the request would be "futile" and that it was sought in "bad faith". The lawsuit asserted claims for breach of contract and breach of express warranty.
"As discussed, there is nothing in the labeling of Florida Natural orange juice that would in any way deceive a reasonable consumer into believing that the orange juice in question is anything but pasteurized orange juice," Johnson wrote. "No amendment can cure that deficiency."
The plaintiff had sought to prosecute a class action lawsuit seeking compensatory and injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern District. Johnson said a plaintiff must have standing before a court can certify a class, a jurisdictional requirement Veal couldn't satisfy.
"He states he did not know store bought orange juice was not fresh squeezed, but nowhere alleges any harm from its purchase or consumption," the judge observed. "He does not even claim that upon learning packaged orange juice was not truly 'fresh,' he now must squeeze his own oranges."
Johnson said he would grant defendant's motion to dismiss the lawsuit in a separate order.
The plaintiff had alleged Citrus World manipulates the flavor of the OJ by adding compounds to mask the taste that results from processing. In a footnote, the judge readily dismissed the notion that plaintiff thought the product was freshly squeezed.
"The plaintiff makes much ado about believing the packaged containers of orange juice contained 'fresh squeezed' orange juice. As a matter of common sense, whatever is in a container on a store shelf with an expiration date some weeks hence cannot contain 'fresh' anything," Johnson stated. "Even if the product began its life as 'fresh squeezed orange juice', common sense dictates that by the time the same makes its way to a grocery store and sits on a shelf waiting purchase, it is no longer 'fresh'".
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