Starbucks Faces Fruitless Lawsuit

Starbucks was ordered by a federal judge to face a lawsuit claiming that several of its Refresher fruit beverages lacked a key ingredient: fruit.

The judge rejected Starbucks’ request to dismiss nine of the 11 claims in the proposed class action, saying “a significant portion of reasonable consumers” would expect their drinks to contain the fruit mentioned in their names.

Consumers complained that Starbucks’ Mango Dragonfruit, Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade, Pineapple Passionfruit, Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade, Strawberry Açai and Strawberry Açai Lemonade Refreshers contained none of the advertised mango, passion fruit or açai.

The plaintiffs said the main ingredients were water, grape juice concentrate and sugar, and that Starbucks’ misleading names caused them to be overcharged. They said this violated their states’ consumer protection laws. In seeking a dismissal, Seattle-based Starbucks said the product names described the drinks’ flavors as opposed to their ingredients—and its menu boards accurately advertised those flavors.

Starbucks also said no reasonable consumers would have been confused, and its baristas could have “sufficiently dispelled” any confusion if consumers had questions.

But the judge said that unlike the term “vanilla,” the subject of many lawsuits, “nothing before the court indicates that ‘mango,’ ‘passionfruit,’ and ‘açaí’ are terms that typically are understood to represent a flavor without also representing that ingredient.” The judge also said confusion might be understandable because other Starbucks products contain ingredients in their names – for example, Ice Matcha Tea Latte contains matcha and Honey Citrus Mint Tea contains honey and mint.

The judge dismissed a fraud claim, finding no proof Starbucks intended to defraud consumers, and an unjust enrichment claim. Starbucks in a statement called the allegations in the lawsuit “inaccurate and without merit,” and said it looked forward to defending itself. The lawsuit began in August 2022 and alleged at least $5 million in damages. The plaintiffs’ lawyer said he was pleased with the decision and looked forward to representing the proposed class.

You can’t even walk down the street and get a potentially fruit-filled drink without running right into a business dispute. They are EVERYWHERE! And when those things negatively impact YOU and/or YOUR business including bankruptcies, landlord/tenant matters including unlawful detainers, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in your good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind! 

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