On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed with Pom Wonderful in its false advertising dispute with Coca-Cola Co., according to The Associated Press. The ruling came in at 8-0 that Pom could move forward with its lawsuit that labels on the “Pomegranate Blueberry” drink from Coke’s Minute Maid division is misleading. The reason that it is misleading is because 99 percent of the drink is grape and apple juice.
Coke had won in lower courts because the label follows the laws of the Food and Drug Administration. The Supreme Court decided to reverse the ruling when it found that the juice label misleads consumers for multiple reasons even though the label complies with the FDA.
The opinion of the court was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, which focused on the details of the drink. The product has just 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, 0.2 percent blueberry juice and just 0.1 percent raspberry juice. Justice Stephen Breyer did not participate in the case.
The argument from Coke that permitting a deceptive label claim will interfere with national uniformity under the laws of the FDA was also rejected by the court.
The lawsuit against Coke was filed in 2008 when Pom began losing market share to Minute Maid’s “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices.” The words “Pomegranate Blueberry” appear larger than all other words in the title and there is a picture of a pomegranate that towers above the other fruits on the drink.
Roll Global, the parent company of Pom, said the following in a statement: the decision “will translate into higher assurance for consumers that the labels on beverage and food are accurate.”
Claudia Vetesi is an attorney who specializes in false advertising class action lawsuits. Vetesi said, “Now a company could make sure its label complies with FDA regulation, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get sued. This chips away at the primacy of the FDA.”
Pom has a deceptive advertising case pending against it from the federal government. The lawsuit stems from the claim that pomegranate juice can help treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and other issues. The lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission is still pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.