CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Coca-Cola is being sued in federal court over the advertising and labeling of its soft drinks.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois after an Inverness, Ill., man claimed Coca-Cola deceptively advertised and labeled its soft drinks as natural and healthy when they actually contain artificial flavoring and chemical preservatives.
Ronald Sowizrol claims the Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Refreshments U.S.A. Inc. violated federal and state laws by fraudulently and negligently saying on its two-liter bottles and other packages that its products have "no artificial flavors. no preservatives added. since 1886."
"This statement, as well as the entire premise of the Pemberton campaign, was false and misleading," the complaint states. "In fact, Coca-Cola contains phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid is both an artificial flavoring and a chemical preservative."
Coca-Cola also falsely represented that Coca-Cola was still made with the "original formula" devised by John Pemberton in 1886, according to the suit.
"In fact, the composition of Coca-Cola has repeatedly changed over time," the complaint stated. "These changes have included, among other things, an increase in the amount of unhealthy ingredients like sugar and corn syrup and the addition of artificial ingredients like phosphoric acid."
Coca-Cola knowingly and intentionally sold misbranded products to consumers with the intent to deceive, according to the suit.
Sowizrol claims he purchased Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Coke and Sprite in 2-liter bottles, 20-ounce bottles and individual and various packages of 12-ounce cans and that all containers of Coca-Cola failed to state that any ingredients are used as artificial flavoring or as a chemical preservative.
Had the plaintiff known that Coca-Cola was misbranded, he would not have purchased Coca-Cola products, according to the suit.
Sowizrol claims as a result of the defendants' unlawful misrepresentations, he and millions of others in Illinois and throughout the United States purchased Coca-Cola and were injured as a result of the defendants' actions.
The defendants have violated the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by misbranding Coca-Cola products, according to the suit.
Sowizrol claims Coca-Cola has been unjustly enriched by its unlawful and deceptive actions.
Sowizrol is seeking for an order certifying the case as a class action and for him and his counsel to represent the class; for an order awarding damages, restitution or disgorgement to the plaintiff and the class; for an order requiring the defendants to immediately cease and desist from selling Coca-Cola in violation of the law; and for punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Robert A. Clifford and Shannon Marie McNulty of Clifford Law Offices.
The case has been assigned to District Judge Milton I. Shadur.
Coca-Cola has faced multiple lawsuits in the last year due to phosphoric acid being included in Coke products.
In October and November, lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California for claims similar to Sowizrol's.
In January 2013, a class action lawsuit was filed against Coca-Cola in the U.S. District Court the Northern District of Alabama-Southern Division over allegedly deceptive and misleading claims on Minute Maid orange juice containers.
In 2009, Coca-Cola faced a lawsuit by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for allegedly misleading health claims on vitaminwater drinks. In 2010, a judge denied Coca-Cola's attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed on technical grounds.
In 2013, a federal judge agreed that the lawsuit could move forward as a class action lawsuit.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois case number: 1:14-cv-01914