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January 25th, 2016

Goya Strikes Back at ‘Serial’ Plaintiff in California Food Fight

In litigation first reported here two years ago, defendant Goya Foods Inc. is fighting back against a serial plaintiff and her bogus, no-injury claim that seeks to exploit California’s Prop 65 labeling requirements.

According to Law360, Goya is seeking to block a bid for class Goyacertification by professional plaintiff Thamar Cortina and her attorney, Jack Fitzgerald.  Their lawsuit alleges that trace amounts of a certain food coloring byproduct in some Goya beverages poses a cancer risk, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and health authorities in Canada and Europe say such amounts pose no danger to human health.

In addition to questioning the meritless and often inconsistent elements of Ms. Cortina’s claim (did she even purchase the product?), Goya’s opposition to class certification filed last week points out that she and her attorney cannot keep their arguments straight in their frequent filing and subsequent bungling of similar would-be class actions, including:

Cortina v. Welch Foods, Inc., 1:12-cv-10070 (D. Mass. Jan. 11, 2012) – voluntarily dismissed. Ms. Cortina was not even aware the case had been filed.
Cortina v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 13-cv-02054 (S.D. Cal. Sep. 3, 2013) – dismissal pending. Ms. Cortina offered to dismiss with prejudice to avoid an award of attorneys’ fees. Ms. Cortina and Fitzgerald are the subject of a sanctions motion, including a request that Fitzgerald be deemed inadequate class counsel.
Cortina v. Novartis Consumer Health, 3:14-cv-00069 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 10, 2014) – dismissed. Ms. Cortina has not spoken to her counsel in a year and was unaware of the dismissal.
Cortina v. Pepsico, Inc., No. 3:14-cv-00168 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 23, 2014, ECF No. 1.) – transferred to Northern District of California and consolidated with other similar actions. Ms. Cortina is no longer a named plaintiff, and Fitzgerald is no longer class counsel.

“In sum, Ms. Cortina has proven she is incapable of monitoring her cases or her counsel’s conduct. She cannot handle the responsibilities of a class representative,” Goya argues.

It’s the costly proliferation of cases such as these that helps make California the runaway #1 Judicial Hellhole in the country.  And until judges there start threatening such parasitic plaintiffs and their attorneys with contempt charges, courts in the once Golden State will stay clogged and, as litigation costs are invariably passed on, consumers will continue to pay more for goods and services than they otherwise would.

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