There’s a lawsuit against Vitaminwater? On what grounds?
On the grounds that it’s terrible for you. It was first filed in 2009 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington (D.C.)-based consumer advocacy group, and a group of Vitaminwater customers in New York and California. It alleges that brand’s parent company, Coca-Cola, took part in “deceptive labeling and marketing for the soft drink, which included claims that the drink could reduce rise for eye disease, promote healthy joints and support ‘optimal immune function.’” The complaint also takes issue with the company’s marketing campaign, which includes words like “defense,” “rescue,” and “endurance” on various Vitaminwater labels, suggesting that their product, a noncarbonated soda containing citric acid, crystalline fructose, and 8 teaspoons of sugar (per 20-ounce serving), is in any way healthy.
But nobody really believes that, right? Are there actually consumers in 2013 who think Vitaminwater contains vitamins?
Coca-Cola’s legal team agrees with you. In court briefings, attorneys representing the company claimed “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” Stephen Gardner, chief litigator for the CSPI, thinks this argument is “utter nonsense. If you accept Coke’s construct, the first thing any consumer must do with any product is to assume the claims on the front of the label are a pack of lies and scrutinize the fine print on the back to learn what’s actually in the product.” “We firmly believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit and will ultimately be rejected,” said Lindsey Raivich, a spokesperson for Glacéau, the Coca-Cola subsidiary that makes Vitaminwater.
What’s the status of the lawsuit?
It took a big step forward last week, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy in Brooklyn recommended that plaintiffs in the case should be able to litigate for declaratory and injunctive relief as a class action. They cannot, however, seek financial damages.
So even if they win, they won’t get any money? Are you sure this counts as a victory?
According to Gardner, who represents only the CSPI, the group’s focus in this legal action was “injunctive relief to stop ongoing bad behavior