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Monday, October 14, 2019

Vitaminwater agrees to settle class action alleging misleading labels

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 26, 2014

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A lawsuit against the Coca Cola Company and Energy Brands Inc. alleging Glaceau Vitaminwater was deceptively marketed has been settled.

The settlement will include changes to Vitaminwater's labeling and marketing, which will benefit all class members equally, according to a settlement document filed Aug. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Mediation was held April 15 and 16 and, during the months preceding the mediation, the parties spoke and corresponded in an effort to narrow the issues for settlement, according to the document.

The settlement class consists of five settlement subclasses: a Florida class, Illinois class, Missouri class, Ohio class and a Virgin Islands class for all persons who purchased the product in the five locations since Jan. 1, 2003.

"Plaintiffs and plaintiffs' counsel believe that the injunctive relief obtained by this settlement is an excellent result and are satisfied that the proposed settlement is within the range of what might be found fair, reasonable and adequate,” the settlement documents say.

If the settlement receives court approval, the defendants have agreed to state the amount of calories per bottle of Vitaminwater on the principal display panel.

The defendants also would no longer state in marketing that "vitamins + water - what's in your hand," "vitamins + water - all you need, Vitamin water is "specifically formulated to support optimal metabolic function with antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic disease and vitamins necessary for the general and utilization of energy from  food," as well as other statements.

The settlement is adequate because there is no conflict among the plaintiffs and the class, and the plaintiffs' attorneys are qualified and experienced, the document states.

The class actions were filed in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and the Virgin Islands by Dave Volz, Ahmed Khaleel, Nicholas Armada, Scott Cook, Stephanie Bridges and Juan Squiabro and were consolidated in 2011 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The plaintiffs claimed the defendants' Vitaminwater name is misleading and that several of its flavors contain negligible amounts of fruit juice and is predominantly made up of water and sugar.

The defendants' misrepresentations about Vitaminwater bombard consumers with a message that the "heavily fortified, sugar-sweetened product is healthy and explicitly suggest that the product is only 'vitamins + water' when, in fact, it is fortified sugar water that contributes to weight gain, diabetes and obesity," the complaint states.

Class counsel shall make an application to the court for an award of attorneys' fees, costs and expenses in the amount of no more than $1.2 million.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York case number: 1:11-md-02215

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