Federal judge rejects class action request in lawsuit alleging tea product was tainted

By Brandi Fleeks | Aug 6, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently denied a motion to certify the class by plaintiff Pam Fradella in a suit against the Coca-Cola Company, ruling Fradella hasn’t met all the requirements for a claim to qualify as a class action lawsuit.

NEW ORLEANS – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently denied a motion to certify the class by plaintiff Pam Fradella in a suit against the Coca-Cola Company, ruling Fradella hasn’t met all the requirements for a claim to qualify as a class action lawsuit.

Fradella had filed suit in September 2017 in 24th Judicial District Court for Jefferson Parish alleging she “became ill” after consuming a Gold Peak Tea containing “mold or some other deleterious

substance,” court filings said.

Fradella then filed a motion to make the case a class action lawsuit on the grounds that “there are thousands of Louisiana residents who have purchased Gold Peak Tea and been adversely affected by this unwholesome product.”

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan denied the class action request in a July 26 filing.  

To file a class action suit, the plaintiff must prove six things: numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy, predominance and superiority.

A threshold of 100 to 150 people is the general standard to satisfy the numerosity requirement of a class action lawsuit. Fradella did not produce any other plaintiffs but felt the numerosity requirement was met because, it’s a “known fact that millions of bottles of Gold Peak Tea have been sold in Louisiana in just the last two years, so, it can be inferred that thousands of people have identical complaints," the filing said.

Morgan denied the motion because Fradella failed to meet the numerosity qualification. Since she was the only person named in the case, and no other plaintiffs have come forward or made any similar complaints, the judge refused her speculation that other Louisiana residents have purchased a bottle of the tea in question.

“Ultimately, plaintiff’s inability to point to any person, other than herself, who fits within her proposed class definition demonstrates the numerosity requirement is not met in this case,” Morgan wrote in her decision. “The court finds the numerosity requirement is not met in this case. As a result, the court denies plaintiff’s motion to certify the class.”

Fradella claims she drank a bottle of Gold Peak Tea that contained mold and then became ill. She filed her lawsuit againsy Coca-Cola and added Rouses Enterprises, a supermarket chain, to the complaint on Dec. 6, 2017.

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