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Monday, October 14, 2019

Buffalo Trace: Whiskey drinkers read the label wrong

By Chandra Lye | May 1, 2017

ST. LOUIS (Legal Newsline) – Distilleries that have been accused of falsely labeling their products have filed a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit brought against them.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Inc., Old Charter Distillery Co. and Sazerac Co. Inc. are the defendants that on April 6 requested that the lawsuit be dismissed. 

Plaintiffs Stephen Penrose, James Thomas, Joseph Guardino and Daniel Pope, who were customers, claimed the companies engaged in false advertising regarding the age of Buffalo Trace bourbon.

The plaintiffs claim they lost money when they bought the whiskey, believing it to be bourbon that was aged eight years.

The defendants state that the label indicates the product was aged for eight seasons, not years, and therefore the plaintiffs misunderstood the label.

“No reasonable consumer would transform a naked number '8' into saying that the bourbon 'has been aged for 8 years,' or translate 'seasons' into 'years,'" the companies argued in the motion for dismissal.

In their motion, the defendants state that the plaintiffs' claims are barred by a safe harbor defense.

“The safe harbor applies because the number 8 and the term 'eight seasons' on Old Charter’s label are authorized by federal law, as regulated by the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau," the motion states.

They also say their motion should be granted as the plaintiffs failed to identify the state law they were bringing their action under.

In addition, the companies assert that the plaintiffs' common law claims fail because the label does not imply warranty, there is no privity of contract and that the plaintiffs cannot plead a duty of care that was breached 

They have requested an oral argument on the motion, “because it will provide the court with a material understanding of the reasons warranting dismissal of this action with prejudice.”

The motion was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Missouri.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri