Partner Amanda Groves practices in San Francisco, California and Charlotte, North Carolina, and serves as the head of litigation for the Charlotte office. She has been successfully representing consumer-product companies (including in the technology and food industries), national retailers, and lending institutions in complex commercial litigation since 1996. She focuses her practice on consumer class action defense, primarily in cases alleging consumer fraud, false advertising, and product liability.
With her extensive experience in consumer-protection statutes, Ms. Groves has successfully defended clients in consumer class actions by obtaining dismissal orders, summary judgment and negotiating settlements with no cash payments by the client. These include nationwide consumer class actions brought on behalf of millions of plaintiffs, as well as statewide cases alleging false advertising, unfair competition, fraud and violations of consumer privacy statutes.
Ms. Groves’ clients benefit from her ability to prepare accurate budgets and her practical, problem-solving approach to litigation issues. They have also remarked that they particularly appreciate her responsiveness and personal attention to their matters.
Ms. Groves is a leading practitioner in labeling class actions, and recently has defended the following brands, among others, in false advertising class actions brought under various state consumer protection laws: Costco’s Kirkland Signature products, Emerald Breakfast on the Go!, Diamond Foods’ culinary walnuts, Heinz’s distilled white vinegar, Kettle Brand’s potato chips, Pacific Foods’ soy milk products, Jim Beam whiskey, Maker’s Mark bourbon, Pop Secret Popcorn, and certain nutritional supplements of a major herbal supplement manufacturer, including St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, and Echinacea.
- Lead counsel in the representation of national retailers and an herbal supplement manufacturer in connection with more than 75 class actions across a dozen states alleging label misrepresentations as to ingredient lists and claims. A motion to consolidate and transfer the cases before a single judge is being considered by the JPML.
- Representation of Costco Wholesale Corporation in a “food court” consumer class actions in the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs there alleged that Costco Wholesale Corporation violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Song-Beverly Act, and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The complaint involved nine separate products and allegations related to alleged preservative claims, nutrient-content claims, health claims, antioxidant claims, “no sugar added” claims, “0 grams trans-fat” claims, “evaporated cane juice” claims, ingredient lists, and slack-filled packaging. On motions to dismiss, the court eliminated all claims related to one line of products, stayed the case as to another, and converted the issues on the remaining products to summary judgment. A hearing is scheduled for that motion later this Spring.
- Representation of Beam Suntory in two labeling class actions in Northern District of Florida and the Southern District of California challenging the “handmade” label on Maker’s Mark bourbon. The matters include state consumer protection and warranty claims. In a widely publicized ruling, the case against Beam in Florida was dismissed with prejudice. The motion to dismiss in California currently is pending.
- Representation of Jim Beam in a labeling class action in the Southern District of California challenging the “handcrafted” label on its white bourbon product. This matter includes state consumer protection and warranty claims, and a motion to dismiss is pending.
- Representation of Kettle Chips in two California class actions and a Florida class action alleging that their “all natural” labels are false and misleading and violate state consumer protection statutes. The ingredients at issue include citric acid, turmeric, paprika, dextrose, and maltodextrin. A final approval hearing is scheduled in Florida to resolve all three cases in August 2015.
- Representation of Pacific Foods in two California class actions (one in the Central District and one in the Northern District) regarding nearly a dozen different products. The suits allege the product labels falsely identify a sugar ingredient as evaporated cane juice, and that products sold by the company are falsely labeled “all natural” when they contain various alleged artificial and/or synthetic ingredients. We successfully obtained a stay of both cases on primary jurisdiction grounds.
- Representation of Diamond Foods in a consumer class action in the Northern District of California in which plaintiff alleged that walnut products made misleading health and nutrient-content statements relating to omega-3s. Winston & Strawn obtained a favorable settlement approval for Diamond Foods, which has been the frequent subject of panel discussions and CLE presentations on food labeling matters.
- Representation of H.J. Heinz Company in a California class action, a Florida class action, and a New York class action involving “all natural” false advertising claims regarding distilled white vinegar. The complaint alleged that H.J. Heinz vinegar is made from crops that are genetically modified and the process used to create the product is not “all natural.” Two of the cases have been voluntarily dismissed and the third remains pending in the Northern District of California.
Ms. Groves also has defended companies in cases alleging food contaminant and safety issues, including:
- Defending a national pizza chain in a product liability class action stemming from an employee contracting Hepatitis A. Final approval of the settlement was obtained, prior to class certification expenses and for less than the cost of defense.
- Defended a food oil supplier in a product liability case alleging that walnut oil provided by the company was contaminated with mineral oil when sold to the European market. The case settled with no cash payment by our client only weeks before trial.
- Defending a microwave popcorn manufacturer in a case pending in the Southern District of California alleging the product’s partially hydrogenated oil causes the product to be unreasonably dangerous and constitutes an unfair business practice under Section 17200. The plaintiffs seek a nationwide injunction banning the sale of the popcorn. Our motion to dismiss is under submission.
Ms. Groves received a B.A. in communication studies, cum laude, from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993. She received a J.D., cum laude, from Santa Clara University of Law in 1996.