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A Little Legal Trouble Brews for Wal-Mart; Consumer Claims “Fraudulent, Unlawful” Craft Ploys

In echo of unsuccessful suit vs MC over Blue Moon, Ohio consumer seeks class action status in suit vs Wal-Mart for “false and deceptive labeling,” positioning and pricing of 4 brands he sez it sells as “craft.”  Cites dictionary definitions of craft, plus BA defn of “small, independent and traditional,” and sez Wal-Mart’s Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Ale, Round Midnight Belgian White and Red Flag Amber don’t fit the bill.  Paid $14 for a 12-pk in OH store (which is close to $28.51/case avg Shock Top price in grocery stores per IRI, but less than avg craft price of near $36/case).  Wal-Mart labels name Trouble Brewing, which “doesn’t really exist,” Plaintiff points out.  Rather it’s name created by private label co Winery Exchange/WX Brands; beer brewed in NAB’s Rochester, NY plant.  Plaintiff believes “Genesee produces well over the prescribed amount that would be considered ‘small,’” citing BA’s 6-mil-bbl cap.

Suit sez Wal-Mart positions these brands next to craft on store shelves, prices them as craft and, according to Wal-Mart exec, “we were intentional about designing a package that conveyed a look and feel you’d expect of craft beer.”  But Plaintiff insists Wal-Mart’s “Craft beer has never been a ‘craft beer,’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery.”  Wal-Mart’s actions violate OH’s consumer protection laws and constitute unjust enrichment, fraud, etc, he claims.  Seeks class action status, compensatory and punitive damages, atty fees and injunction to stop Wal-Mart’s “misleading misconduct.”  Recall, similar action vs Blue Moon dismissed by US federal court last yr.  That ct specifically said pricing of brand “cannot be a misrepresentation” (that brand is “craft” or not).  Same ct tho refused to decide on defn of “craft,” for such claims.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 8
  • Issue #: 14
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