TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit has been filed against Walmart after class members claim it marketed its Great Value brand cranberry pomegranate juice as being composed of two fruits when it is made up of five fruit juices and contains very little pomegranate.
Ira Reynolds and Patricia Bell claim Walmart markets its juice blend as "100% Juice Cranberry Pomegranate" on its label with much more prominence than other words on the label that show the juice to be a blend of five juices, according to a complaint filed July 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
"In truth, the... product contains very little pomegranate juice concentrate when compared to the apple juice and white grape juice concentrates," the complaint states. "Far less than the 100% cranberry pomegranate juice that is predominately advertised on the front of their label."
The defendant knowingly and purposefully failed to disclose to its consumers that the primary ingredients in the juice are actually "cheap apple and grape juice," according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim to this day, Walmart has taken no meaningful steps to clear up consumers' misconceptions regarding its product.
"As a consequence of defendant's unfair and deceptive practices, plaintiffs and numbers of the class have purchased GV Pomegranate Juice under the false impressions that, by drinking defendant's product, they would enjoy the healthful and nutritional benefits associated with a product they believe at least primarily contains pomegranate juice," the complaint states.
Significantly, each consumer has been exposed to the same material misrepresentations and/or omissions which are prominently displayed on the product packaging for the GV pomegranate juice prior to purchasing the product, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim Walmart violated the Florida Food Safety Act, which also constitutes violations of Florida's Consumer Protection Statutes and Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act.
"It has become recently well-known that pomegranate juice is high in powerful antioxidants, recognized for years to be helpful in maintaining health and preventing disease," the complaint states.
With the nutritional and health benefits of pomegranate juice becoming widely known, consumer demand for pomegranate juice has increased rapidly, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim it was this enormous new market that Walmart hoped to tap with the sale of its pomegranate juice product.
"Even though GV Pomegranate juice contains very little pomegranate juice, Walmart made a tactical marketing and/or advertising decision to create a deceptive and misleading label with many elements not required by state or federal regulation," the complaint states.
Walmart knowingly and intentionally sold the misbranded products to consumers with the intent to deceive them, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim Walmart has been unjustly enriched at consumers' expense.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, an order for the defendants to engage in corrective advertising of the juice, and compensatory damages. They are being represented by Tim Howard of Howard & Associates.
The case has been assigned to District Judge Mark E. Walker.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida case number: 4:14-cv-00381
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.