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Beck’s Beer Loses False Advertising Suit, Beer Actually Brewed in the U.S.
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Anheuser-Busch must pay up for allegedly leading its consumers to believe that Beck’s beer was brewed in Germany, when it was actually brewed in the United States.

Summary: Anheuser-Busch must pay up for allegedly leading its consumers to believe that Beck’s beer was brewed in Germany, when it was actually brewed in the United States.

Law.com reports that a group of South Florida law firms have won an uncapped settlement and a pledge from Anheuser-Busch Cos. that it will be more up front with its consumers about where Beck’s beer is actually brewed.

  
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A class action lawsuit alleged that the company engaged in false advertising. The suit argued that the company made more sales by leading consumers to believe that Beck’s was imported from Germany, when in fact it is actually brewed in the United States. Beck’s used to be brewed in Germany, but as of 2012, brewing moved to St. Louis, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a part of the settlement, the beer must now feature “Product of USA” labels on the bottles.

Beck’s is brewed in several countries, including Germany, but most U.S. customers purchase beer that is brewed in St. Louis.

Jorn Socquet, the vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch, said, “We believe our labeling, packaging and marketing of Beck’s have always been truthful, transparent and in compliance with all legal requirements.”

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The Beck’s packaging stated it “originated in Bremen, Germany” and that it is “German quality.”

The class of plaintiffs could include hundreds of thousands of consumers who purchased Beck’s from May 1, 2011 to the settlement date. Consumers who provide proof of purchase may receive up to $50 form the settlement, a rate of 50 cents per six pack. Without receipts, consumers may receive a maximum of $12 by submitting a claim online. A spokeswoman for the plaintiffs’ attorneys said, “The settlement is structured to provide relief to consumers regardless of whether they kept receipts, while at the same time setting caps to guard against the potential of inflated claims,” CNN added.



The settlement has no minimum value, and both sides agree that the plaintiffs’ attorney should be paid a fee of $3.5 million.

Tucker Ronzetti of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “The most important aspect of the case was making sure the consuming public knows exactly what they’re purchasing.”

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According to Ronzetti, certifying the class was a major hurdle in the case. Many courts have started requiring “ascertainability” in class action suits, which requires a class to be defined by objective criteria.

Ronzetti explained, “The law has evolved very recently, especially after a Third Circuit case called Carrera, so that courts are starting to require easily gathered objective documentation establishing membership in a class.” He noted that this doctrine is tricky for retail cases because Anheuser-Busch distributes its beer to retailers, so there is no list of every individual who purchased the beer.

The plaintiffs also had to overcome issues about the damages model in the case. One such model focused on retail prices. Ronzetti commented, “That can vary city by city and even store by store. Even gathering the data around that was a challenge.”

Francisco Rene Marty, Seth Goldman, and Fernando Marquet led the class of plaintiffs. U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan preliminarily approved the settlement and class certification on June 23. A hearing for final approval is set for October 20.

Through mediation, the parties reached the settlement agreement.

In addition to Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, Harke Clasby & Bushman, Robert W. Rodriguez P.A., and Campbell Law also represented the plaintiffs.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Kenny Nachwalter represented the defendants.

Source: Law.com

Photo credit: commetrics.com

 

 

 



 

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