A U.S. federal judge has laid down the law on Coca-Cola Co., recommending that the soft drink company face a class-action lawsuit for allegedly deceiving consumers of the health benefits in Vitaminwater.
According to Reuters, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy made the public decision about more than 4-year-old lawsuit on Thursday. The judge ruled consumers could not sue the company for monetary damages, but can try to change the way Coca Cola labels and markets their product.
Consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public first filed a lawsuit in Jan. 2009, ABC New reports. The lawsuit also included consumers from Californina and New York residents, and accused Coca-Cola of misleadingly marketing Vitaminwater as an alternative to water to "promote healthy joints, boost the immune system and help people fight eye disease, among other health benefits," according to Reuters.
Levy said the plantiffs' claims were justified in their lawsuit against the soft drink company.
Plaintiffs "have not presented a class-wide damages model that can be used based on common proof, or a reliable method of distributing damages to putative class members," Levy wrote, according to Reuters.
Back in 2010, a New York judge ruled that Vitaminwater's use of the word "healthy" violated FDA labeling rules, according to ABC News.
The case will be sent to U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry for approval, and usually accept magistrate judges' recommendations.
Coca-Cola spokeswoman Lindsey Raivich told Reuters the Atlanta-based company "is pleased that class certification was denied for damages, and believes the plaintiffs' claims in general are without merit and will ultimately be rejected."
Steve Gardner, litigation director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Reuters,"the decision puts the case on track for a possible trial where Coca-Cola will have to defend the deceptive claims it has made and continues to make."