Sonner v. Schwabe North America, No. 17-55261 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for sellers of two Ginkgold nutritional supplements in a consumer class action that alleged false advertising claims under California law. The panel clarified that claims under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) are to be analyzed in the same manner as any other claim, and the usual summary judgment rules apply.
The panel held that plaintiff had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a challenged advertisement is false or misleading under the UCL and CLRA. Furthermore, plaintiff need only produce evidence of a genuine dispute of material fact that could satisfy the preponderance of the evidence burden at trial. In this case, plaintiff met her burden by producing expert testimony and other scientific data that the nutritional supplement had no more of an effect on mental sharpness, memory, or concentration than a placebo. The panel held that the district court erred by requiring plaintiff to do more and by elevating the burden of proof well beyond what is usually required to defeat summary judgment. The panel remanded for further proceedings.