A federal magistrate says a class action lawsuit that claims Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater was deceptively marketed as a healthy alternative to soda may proceed.
The legal action, brought against Atlanta-based Coca-Cola by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and private law firms in 2009, charges that the beverage giant’s marketing of Vitaminwater claimed the product could reduce the risk of eye disease and promote healthy joints, among other benefits. The plaintiffs also said adjectives describing the product, such as “defense,” “rescue” and “endurance,” were misleading.
The ruling, which was issued Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy, recommended that the plaintiffs litigate for declaratory and injunctive relief, but not for damages.
“Today’s decision puts this case on a glide path toward a jury trial where Coca-Cola will have to defend under penalty of perjury the deceptive claims it has made and continues to make in connection with Vitaminwater,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.
In a statement, Coca-Cola said, “We are very gratified that Magistrate Judge Levy recommended denying class certification as to all monetary damages claims alleged by plaintiffs. We firmly believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit and will ultimately be rejected. Vitaminwater is a great tasting, hydrating beverage with essential vitamins and water, and labels clearly showing ingredients and calorie content.”
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