A putative class action has been filed against the maker of POM Wonderful® pomegranate (PWP) juice in a Florida state court, alleging that the company is misleading consumers by marketing its product “as having special health benefits, including but not limited to, the prevention, mitigation, and or treatment of the following: (a) atherosclerosis; (b) Blood Flow/Pressure; (c) Prostate Cancer; (d) Erectile Function; (e) cardiovascular disease; (f) Reduce LDL cholesterol; (g) and other age related medical conditions.” Giles v. POM Wonderful, LLC, No. 10-32192 (Cir. Ct., 17th Jud. Cir., Broward County, Fla., filed August 6, 2010).
Seeking to represent a statewide class of consumers, the plaintiff claims, “In sum, the message is drink PWP and it will keep you young forever.” According to the complaint, the company has no reasonable basis for making its health-related marketing claims and has, in fact, been warned by the Food and Drug Administration that the product’s labeling directly violates federal law by establishing the product as a drug. The plaintiff also alleges that the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus found the defendant’s medical research inadequate to substantiate some of its purported health benefits, and the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority determined that the company’s evidence fell short and thus, it was making “misleadingly exaggerated” healthbenefit claims.
The plaintiff alleges violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and breach of express warranty; she seeks restitution, disgorgement, declaratory and injunctive relief, a corrective advertising campaign, costs, and attorney’s fees. She contends that no individual plaintiff’s claim exceeds $75,000 and appears to base her damages on paying “a significant price premium” for a product that cannot deliver the benefits the defendant has promised.