WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – A New York City man has filed suit
against three major liquor manufacturers alleging that they strategically utilized
inferior ingredients to make their product but continued to charge consumers
and advertise the spirits as if it was of the same premium quality.
On behalf of himself and all others similarly
situated, Nicholas Parker filed his class-action complaint in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York back in November, naming Buffalo
Trace Distillery Inc., Old Charter Distillery Co. and Sazerac Co. Inc. as defendants
responsible for the manufacturing and sale of Old Charter bourbon.
The suit specifically charges that the
companies sought to maximize profits by means of “unfair or deceptive trade or
commerce,” through breach of warranty, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.
In seeking compensatory, statutory and
punitive damages, the plaintiff also alleges seven counts of deceptive acts or
practices, false advertising and unjust enrichment.
At issue is the question
of if, at some point and time, the distilleries ceased with their still-advertised
practice of aging their bourbon for eight years before making it available for
purchase without making unsuspecting consumers aware of the change.
In his suit, Parker
contends that to this day, labeling on the bottled products still misleads
consumers into believing the bourbon is aged for eight years, with the
advertisement "gently matured for eight seasons" still appearing in
bold print on the bottle.
Old Charter was sold
as an eight-year old bourbon until early 2014, when Buffalo Trace rebranded it
as Old Charter 8 while keeping its pricing the same at around $18 for a 750-milliliter
Parker is seeking trial by jury, and the
total class joining the suit is now estimated to be “in the hundreds of thousands.”
He is represented by the law firm of Bursor & Fisher PA,
which has made news on the class-action consumer litigation front in recent
times by successfully brokering a $12 million settlement from Starkist Tuna in
an action alleging that the company routinely underfilled cans of its product
sold to consumers.
In documents filed with the court related to the liquor dispute,
attorneys for Parker argued “the bourbon bearing Old Charter name is now aged for
significantly less than eight years and is of inferior quality to its former
They also strongly suggested they are convinced the company was
motivated into making the switch by its unwavering desire to increase profits.
Amy Preske, a
spokesperson for Buffalo Trace, told the Legal Newsline “we do not comment on ongoing litigation,” thus offering no hint as
to how the company might elect to fight off the accusations.
Earlier this year, Bursor
& Fisher also slapped Starbucks with a suit alleging that the Seattle-based
company regularly underfills its lattes. Back in June, a California federal
court judge ruled that the suit filed by plaintiffs Siera Strumlauf and
Benjamin Robles contending that consumers are served roughly 25 percent less of
a beverage than what’s advertised could move forward.