A federal judge in the U.S. District of Manhattan ruled on Monday that Starbucks must face a lawsuit that alleges several of its Refresher fruit beverages do not actually contain any fruit, Reuters reported.
Starbucks had sought to dismiss nine out of the 11 claims in the proposed class action suit, but U.S. District Judge John Cronan rejected the company’s request, stating that a majority of “reasonable consumers” would expect Starbucks’ fruit beverages to actually contain the fruit mentioned in their names.
The lawsuit, filed in August 2022, alleges that Starbucks engaged in “false and deceptive” marketing practices by presenting its Starbucks Refresher Products as fruit-based beverages, but the flavors, such as Mango Dragonfruit and Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refreshers, do not contain mango, and similarly, Pineapple Passionfruit and Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Refreshers lack passionfruit. Strawberry Acai and Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refreshers do not contain acai, etc.
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The plaintiffs argue that they purchased the supposed fruit-based products at a premium price, believing they contained the advertised ingredients and, if they had known about the absence of fruit, they either wouldn’t have bought the products or would have paid “significantly less.”
In response, Starbucks defended itself by claiming that the product names referred to the drinks’ flavors rather than ingredients. The company asserted that its menu boards accurately advertised the flavors and that reasonable consumers would not be confused. Additionally, Starbucks argued that its baristas could have cleared up any confusion if customers had questions.
However, Judge Cronan disagreed with the chain, pointing out that terms like “mango,” “passionfruit,” and “acaí” are typically understood to represent both flavor and ingredient.
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The lawsuit is seeking $5 million in damages.
Entrepreneur has reached out to Starbucks for comment.