Aggressive Advocates For Your Rights

Lawsuit: Canada Dry ginger ale allegedly contains no real ginger

A federal judge recently ruled that the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., must face a potential class-action lawsuit. The claim? The company owns Canada Dry, who allegedly misled consumers by stating that its ginger ale is made from real ginger. The plaintiffs are suing for false advertising, misrepresentation, fraud, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.

Yes. This is the brand with the ad where a ginger harvester pulls on a plant only to find it is attached by the root to a bottle of ginger ale. A voiceover reads the tagline, "Real ginger. Real taste." On the product is printed the claim, "Made from real ginger." Another ad beckons, "Find your way to relaxation with the crisp soothing taste of real ginger and bubbles. Canada Dry, the root of relaxation."

The complaint, which contains pictures and screenshots of Canada Dry ginger ale ads and their taglines, states that independent laboratory testing determined that the product does not contain any detectable amount of ginger.

It goes on to say that the plaintiff and other consumers bought Canada Dry ginger ale in reliance upon the claim that it contained at least some detectable amount of ginger, as opposed to chemical flavoring. He points out that real ginger is a premium ingredient costing some $1-2 per pound. Therefore, the claim that Canada Dry ginger ale contains real ginger is material and would likely affect consumers' purchasing decisions.

The plaintiff asserts that he and other consumers indeed would not have bought the product but for the false advertising claims, or they would have paid significantly less money for it. They have therefore suffered a financial injury due to the allegedly false advertising. He also asserted that he, for one, would buy the product again if it were reformulated to contain ginger.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the plaintiff and all similarly-situated consumers. It also seeks an injunction to prevent the company from continuing to advertise the product as containing real ginger.

Dr. Pepper and company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff had not built an actionable case against them. In a 14-page opinion, the federal judge ruled against Dr. Pepper on all counts.

The judge ruled that "a reasonable consumer would be misled into believing that the product contains at least some detectable amount of ginger," so "the representation 'made from real ginger' could be false or misleading to a reasonable consumer."

The case will now move forward to determine if a class action should be certified, and then to settlement or trial.

If you drink ginger ale, would it matter to you that the drink might not contain any actual ginger?

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