U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers halted a class action lawsuit against the soft drink giant Coca-Cola Co. Inc. and its subsidiary Odwalla Inc. that alleged the companies used false advertising statements on their products. The plaintiff party alleges that the companies misled consumers by listing “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient in their products instead of sugar. The judge said she will make her final decision following an inquiry into the issue by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Plaintiff Robin Reese claims that under California’s Sherman Law, the companies made false claims about their products’ ingredients. However, Odwalla argues that the plaintiff’s claims are invalid because she was relying on guidelines for evaporated cane juice that the FDA is still developing. In other words, the defendant states that the allegations are invalid because the FDA does not yet have an established definition for evaporated cane juice.
The class action lawsuit stems from the fact that defendant companies allegedly mislabeled one of their ingredients as “evaporated cane juice” instead of sugar. The plaintiff alleged that this action violated California’s Sherman Law and the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FDCA). Reese seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased Odwalla products that listed evaporated cane juice as an ingredient, leading customers to believe that they were not consuming sugar.
The companies filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit, alleging the plaintiff’s claims are invalid. Judge Rogers disagreed, finding that this class action lawsuit alleges the companies were using misleading words and phrases against their customers in order to generate more sales. The allegations, if proven to be true, establish that the companies violated federal food labeling laws, which is more specific than general false advertising accusations.
As of now, the FDA’s position on the term “evaporated cane juice” is unclear and is being reevaluated as to what falls into that category. The judge said that the FDA’s definition will affect all future litigation. Reese first filed her class action lawsuit against Odwalla and Coca-Cola in March 2013, seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased Odwalla products with evaporated cane juice as an ingredient, which allegedly leads customers to believe that the products contained no sugar.
The Odwalla Evaporated Cane Juice Class Action Lawsuit is Reese v. Odwalla Inc., et al., Case No. 4:13-cv-00947, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
UPDATE: On July 27, 2016, the Odwalla class action lawsuit has been revived after a two-year pause following the FDA’s recent administrative guidance concerning the use of the controversial term “evaporated cane juice” instead of “sugar” on ingredients list.
UPDATE 2: On Aug. 10, 2016, Odwalla and the Coca-Cola Company asked a judge to dismiss a class action lawsuit accusing them of misleading consumers by listing “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient instead of sugar.
UPDATE 3: On Sept. 16, 2016, Reese responded to the company’s motion for dismissal, reiterating her argument that the company shouldn’t use the term “evaporated cane juice” to describe what should be properly called “sugar.”
File an Evaporated Cane Juice Class Action Lawsuit Claim
A class action lawsuit investigation has been launched to find consumers who were deceived by the term “evaporated cane juice” in making their decision to purchase a food product. See if you qualify to pursue compensation now by submitting a claim at the Evaporated Cane Juice Deceptive Marketing Class Action Lawsuit Investigation.
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