Kraft, Starbucks Win Challenge Over Tassimo Brewer

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By Bruce Kaufman

May 16 — A coffee drinker's acceptance of a $250 offer of judgment from Kraft Foods and Starbucks foreclosed her challenge to the denial of class certification in her case, the Sixth Circuit said May 16.

Plaintiff Pamella Montgomery no longer possessed a stake in the outcome of a suit over the inability of Tassimo single-cup brewers to use Starbucks products, the court said.

Judge Deborah L. Cook distinguished the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court's contrary ruling in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 2016 BL 14352, 136 S. Ct. 663 (2016) (17 CLASS 80, 1/22/16), which rejected a mootness challenge to an unaccepted offer of judgment.

Here, Montgomery accepted the offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, plus costs and fees, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said.

The acceptance eliminated any potential benefit to the plaintiff from class certification, it held.

Warranty Claims Correctly Rejected

The court said warranty claims contending Kraft Foods and Starbucks were liable were also properly dismissed.

Montgomery's express warranty claim was correctly dismissed because she wasn't a beneficiary of the distribution agreement between Tassimo maker Kraft Foods Global, Inc. and Starbucks Corp., the court said.

Her implied warranty of merchantability claim was also properly rejected because the item wasn't defective when it left the manufacturer or seller.

The court also dismissed Montgomery's challenge to an attorneys' fees award as a “gripe.”

Timothy H. McCarthy, Jr., in Okemos, Mich., represents the plaintiffs.

Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel represents the defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Kaufman in Washington at bkaufman@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com and Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bna.com