Court rules for Pom Wonderful in dispute with Coke
WASHINGTON – Coca-Cola’s version of pomegranate juice is not quite the real thing, and a competitor has another chance to prove it in court.
The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with juice maker Pom Wonderful in its long-running false advertising dispute with the Coca-Cola Co., a decision that could open the door to more litigation against food makers for deceptive labeling.
The justices ruled 8-0 that Pom can go forward with a lawsuit alleging the label on a “Pomegranate Blueberry” beverage offered by Coke’s Minute Maid unit is misleading because 99 percent of the drink is apple and grape juice.
Lower courts had ruled in favor of Coke because the label conforms to the law and to Food and Drug Administration rules. But the Supreme Court reversed, finding that the juice label may technically comply with FDA rules but may still mislead consumers for different reasons.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the court’s opinion, appeared to have telegraphed his position back in April when he said at oral argument that the label even misled him into thinking the drink was mostly pomegranate juice. His opinion Thursday focused on the juice’s details, noting that the product contained only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, 0.2 percent blueberry juice and 0.1 percent raspberry juice.