CINCINNATI (Legal Newsline) - Class members and the Coca-Cola Company agreed on a settlement in a lawsuit claiming Coca-Cola deceptively marketed its Vitaminwater brand.
The settlement resolves claims brought against Coca-Cola and Energy Brand for allegedly deceptively marketing Vitaminwater with statements on the product such as, "vitamins + water = what's in your hand," and "vitamins + water = all you need," as well as many other allegedly false statements.
Coca-Cola and Energy Brand deny the allegations, but have agreed to settle the class action in order to avoid further legal expenses and the uncertainty of ongoing litigation, according to the Aug. 5 settlement document.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2010 by David Volz, Ahmed Khaleel, Nicholas Armada, Scott Cook, Stephanie Bridges and Juan Squiabro, who claimed Vitaminwater is a "sugar-sweetened beverage" with little different from Coco-Cola Classic or other soft drinks except that it is fortified and un-carbonated, according to the suit.
The defendants aggressively marketed, labeled and advertised Vitaminwater as a fortified drink to attract health-conscious customers like the plaintiffs, the suit said.
Class members of the settlement include all residents of the Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and the U.S. Virgin Islands who purchased the product in those jurisdictions from Jan. 1, 2003 up to and including Sept. 25, except defendants' officers, directors, employees and agents, according to the settlement document.
Class counsel will receive no more than $1.2 million for attorneys' fees and costs.
Coca Cola and Energy Brand will be prevented from making misleading product statements on the labels, packaging, and marketing of Vitaminwater, according to the settlement document.
The companies will state the amount of calories per bottle of the product on the front label of the product; will place in bold type the reference "see nutrition facts for more detail" on the front label of the product; and will refrain from making certain statements on the Product’s labeling and marketing.
The final fairness hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.
The plaintiffs are represented by Richard S. Wayne and Joseph J. Braun of Strauss Troy Co. LPA; Brian T. Giles of Statman Harris & Eyrich LLC; Aashish Y. Desai of Desai Law Firm PC; William C. Wright of the Wright Law Firm PA; J. Russell B. Pate of the Pate Law Firm; and Christopher S. Shank of Shank & Hamilton PC.
The defendants are represented by Shon Morgan, Faith E. Gay and Isaac Nesser of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP; Thomas H. Stewart and Nathaniel R. Jones of Blank Rome LLP; and James R. Eiszner and Tammy B. Webb of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.
The case was assigned to District Judge Michael R. Barrett.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio case number: 1:10-cv-00879
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.