Brown v. The Hain Celestial Group

Case # 11-cv-03082
Case Name Brown v. The Hain Celestial Group
Jurisdiction US District Court for N.D. CA

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants knowingly mislabeled cosmetic products under the brand names "Jason" and Avalon Organics", marketing them as "organic" when the products were not made of predominately organic ingredients.  Since the products did not contain at least 70% organic ingredients, by weight, their labeling violated the California Organic Products Act of 2003.  As a result of the mislabeling, consumers paid a premium for the products that they would not otherwise.

Final Approval Date 02/17/2016
  1. Final Approval granted.
  2. All objections were overruled.
    • The Court found that the objectors likely lacked standing, since it is hard to see how they are aggrieved by the terms of the settlement and also hard to see how their proposed changes to the settlement may benefit them (see Amended Final Approval Order, at 17:2-9).  However, the Court still considered their arguments and found them to be without merit.
  3. In sworn deposition testimony, Objector Sweeney testified that he received $20,000 to settle his objection (see Patrick Sweeney Deposition Transcript (Yahoo Mail) at 150:25-151:9, attached below).
  4. No payments to objectors were disclosed in the record of this case.
Dismissal of Last Appeal N/A
Attachments Docket Report.pdf
First Amended Complaint.pdf
Preliminary Approval Order.pdf
Motion for Final Approval.pdf
Todzo Declaration is Support of Motion for Final Approval.pdf
Amended Final Approval Order.pdf
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Objection of Dawn Weaver

Objectors Dawn Weaver
Signers Joseph Darrell Palmer
Attorneys Joseph Darrell Palmer
  1. Notice and settlement website do not make sufficient information available to class members.
    • Does not identify the operant complaint.
  2. Coupon provisions are inappropriate.
  3. Cy pres distributions do not benefit the class.
  4. Attorneys' fees are excessive and create a conflict of interest with the class.
  5. Class representative incentive awards are excessive.

Class counsel attempted to depose Objector Weaver; but her attorney, Joseph Darrell Palmer, noted "That will never happen!" (see Email Correspondence)

In her objection, Ms. Weaver referred to the Defendant as "Pier 1", which is not a party in this case (See Objection of Dawn Weaver, at 9:4).

Attachments Objection of Dawn Weaver.pdf
Email Correspondence with Mr. Palmer Regarding Client Deposition.pdf
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Objection of Patrick Sweeney

Objectors Patrick Sweeney
Signers Patrick Sweeney
  1. Claims administration process is overly opaque.
    • Timelines are not sufficiently clear for class members to know when to expect payment.
  2. Attorneys' fees should be withheld to ensure adequate oversight of the settlement.
  3. Attorneys' fees are excessive and improperly calculated.
  4. Cy pres provisions are not sufficiently clear.
  5. Value of the coupon portions of the settlement is not easily ascertained.
Attachments Objection of Patrick S. Sweeney.pdf
Patrick Sweeney Deposition Transcript (Yahoo Mail).pdf
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Objection of Steven F. Helfand

Objectors Steven F. Helfand
Signers Steven F. Helfand
  1. Notice is inadequate.
    • Does not fully disclose the release of claims by class members.
  2. Attorneys' fees are excessive.
    • Attorneys' compensation should be paid, in part, in coupons.
  3. Coupon provisions do not provide full compensation to class members.
  4. "Quick payment" provisions create a conflict of interest between class members and class counsel.
  5. Class representative incentive awards are excessive.
  6. Cy pres provisions direct money away from the class and to organizations whose relationship to the class is murky at best.
    • Cy pres distribution lacks sufficient oversight.

The Court found that Mr. Helfand had not adequately proven his class membership and the Court would be justified in striking his objection (see Amended Final Approval Order, at 16:21-25).

Attachments Objection of Steven F. Helfand.pdf
Helfand Responses to Interrogatories.pdf
Helfand Response to Motion for Final Approval.pdf
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Objection of Sheri Lee Williams

Objectors Sheri Lee Williams
Signers Bradley D. Salter
Attorneys Bradley D. Salter
  1. Settlement approval should be delayed pending other similar cases in the Ninth Circuit.
  2. Settlement fails to provide meaningful relief to class members.
  3. Injunctive relief is illusory.
  4. Coupon provisions force class members to continue doing business with the Defendant.
  5. Cy pres distributions are not adequately supervised or linked to the class.
  6. Release is overbroad.
  7. Attorneys' fees are excessive and improperly calculated.
  8. Class representative incentive award is excessive.
Attachments Objection of Sheri Lee Williams.pdf
Williams Deposition Transcript.pdf
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