In the Courtroom: Sunny Delight Wins Lawsuit

Sunny Delight Wins Lawsuit

Sunny Delight Beverages Co. was awarded $88,383 for legal fees after winning a class action lawsuit that claimed that labelling for the brand’s fruit-flavored drinks did not clearly indicate the products were artificially flavored.

The lawsuit, Michelle Hunt et al. v. Sunny Delight Beverages Co. et al., filed last April in the United States District Court Central District of California, specifically cited the company’s SunnyD Orange Strawberry and Orange Pineapple flavors for using images of fresh fruit on its labels but failing to disclose that the drinks were made with artificial flavors and other ingredients.

In her ruling, judge Josephine Staton enumerated multiple inaccuracies in Hunt’s accusations against Sunny Delight. The original complaint featured mockup images made by the company of its multi-serve products without disclaimer text on the labels, which according to the company were intended only for online marketing purposes and did not represent the actual product on shelf.

Sunny Delight was represented by law firm Braunhagey & Borden, which specializes in class action defense for corporations. Speaking with BevNET today, partner and co-founder Matthew Borden said that due to the mistakes in the complaint the case was fairly easy to argue.

“What I did was I brought an actual bottle of it into court and I showed the judge,” Borden told BevNET. “I said ‘I just bought this last night after I got off the airplane. Here’s the actual label, there’s no way these people were deceived.’”

According to Borden, the plaintiffs refiled their complaint after the initial complaint was struck, but it once again included misleading photos of the bottles.

“I’m a person who takes what I eat and drink seriously, and I think we should have accurate labels, but none of these cases are really about the labelling,” Borden said of the suit and similar class action cases. “It’s just about some kind of ‘gotcha’ to make a company pay money.”

VPX Bang Named in Class Action Suit

Vital Pharmaceuticals, maker of energy drink VPX Bang, has been named in a new class action lawsuit taking aim at functional claims made by the company and its slogan promising consumers “brain & body rocking fuel.”

A suit filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida calls into question the “body rocking” slogan, arguing the company “misrepresents the ingredients of BANG, luring consumers into purchasing the product that fails to deliver the promised benefits,” according to a posting on Top Class Actions. The suit, Nguyen et al. v. Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc., alleges the drink “does not contain” key ingredients including creatine, coenzyme Q10, and branched chain amino acids, or that “the amounts contained … are minimal.”

“Defendant knows that consumers are willing to pay more for sports and energy products that contain ‘SUPER’ Creatine, ‘ULTRA’ CoQ10, and Branched Chain Amino Acids, as opposed to those that do not, in part because the listed ingredients are valuable and desired for these consumers, the quality is higher, and consumers believe they are paying costs associated with higher quality ‘potent,’ ‘SUPER,’ and ‘ULTRA’ ingredients,” the suit alleges.

Capri Sun Sues For Breach of Contract

Kids beverage maker Capri Sun GmbH is suing its former manufacturer American Beverage Corporation (ABC) for breach of contract, alleging the company has continued to sell Capri Sun’s patented, trademark-protected pouch packaging after an agreement between the two companies expired last year.

In a partially redacted complaint filed this month in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Capri Sun alleges that ABC produced lines of fruit-flavored kids drinks under multiple brand names — including SunnyD, Juicy Juice, Nature’s Nectar, Wild Harvest, and Oh-So Organic — using its pouch package, resulting in $75,000 in damages. This continued, according to the complaint, despite “multiple protest letters” sent by Capri Sun to ABC beginning in August 2018.

“Consumers throughout the world associate the iconic CAPRI SUN pouch trademark uniquely with Capri Sun, and we do not want our loyal customers to be confused or deceived about the source or quality of products that ABC is offering under its imitation, knock-off pouch,” said Kathrin Stapper, chief legal counsel for Capri Sun, in a press release.

According to the complaint, Capri Sun is seeking ABC immediately stop producing pouch-packaged products, destroy its existing inventory, and pay all profits made on the products to Capri Sun.

Connecticut Mulls Soda Tax While California Revisits “Big Gulp Ban”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week a new budget agenda which includes a proposal for a 1.5 cents per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to The Hill.

The tax is estimated to raise about $163 million in new revenue for the next fiscal year. However, the move is likely to ignite a political battle in Connecticut similar to those seen in California and other states and municipalities that have attempted to pass soda taxes.

“Similar taxes on sugary drinks in Philadelphia, Boulder and Seattle have failed to raise significant revenue and have hurt local business,” Boylan Bottling Co. COO and Connecticut resident Chris Taylor told The Hill. “It’s troubling that our governor and the Democrats in Hartford are willing to target one specific line of business rather than focusing on renegotiating bad deals with in-state unions.”

Also this week, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Democrats in the California legislature, which under pressure from soda producers voted last year to ban cities from passing new soda taxes, are now looking at a number of new regulations against sugar-sweetened beverages.

The new bills under review include a ban on the sale of “Big Gulp”-style sodas by limiting cup sizes to 16 oz, placing health warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages, a ban on grocery stores displaying such drinks at checkout, banning in-store promotions on soda, and a new tax on sugary drinks which would fund programs which “offset their health effects,” according to The Chronicle.

“We have an incredible public health crisis. Obesity and diabetes are at alarming rates, driven by the deception of Big Soda,” Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, told The Chronicle. “And certainly what happened last year didn’t help.”