A Florida resident has filed a complaint on behalf of a putative class against Anheuser-Busch Cos. (AB), claiming that since the company began producing Beck’s Beer in the United States in 2012, it has misled consumers into believing that the product is still imported from Germany where it was made with quality ingredients for more than 225 years. Marty v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., LLC, No. 13-23656 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Fla., filed October 9, 2013).
According to the complaint, external packaging material does not indicate that the product is brewed in the United States with domestic ingredients, including Missouri River water. Rather, the external packaging for six- and 12-packs allegedly states that the product is “German Quality” beer “brewed under the German Purity Law of 1516” and that it “Originated in Bremen, Germany.” Individual bottles, however, state “in obscure white text on a silver background, ‘Product of USA—Brauerei Beck & Co.—St. Louis, MO.—12 FL. OZ.’” The plaintiff alleges that the bottle labeling cannot be seen before 12-pack containers are purchased and cannot be seen in a six-pack “unless a bottle is removed and examined. . . . Reasonable consumers, including Plaintiffs, cannot or do not read the fine print on the bottles until after they have already purchased Beck’s Beer. Even then, the print on the bottle is ambiguous and difficult to read.” The plaintiff further contends that retailers, restaurants and bars are also confused about the beer’s origins, treating it as a more expensive import.
Seeking to certify a nationwide class and Florida subclass of Beck’s Beer purchasers, the plaintiff alleges unjust enrichment and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. He requests injunctive relief, damages, unjust benefits, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs.