“Natural” ingredients class-action continues to haunt LaCroix

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In Chicago, the maker of ubiquitous flavored water LaCroix has lost its legal bid to have sanctions placed on the plaintiffs of a class-action suit alleging the company did not, as advertised, use natural ingredients in its products.

The class-action suit, filed October 1st, claims LaCroix’s products include synthetic flavors such as ethyl butanoate, limonene, linalool and linalool propionate. LaCroix parent company National Beverage claims the plaintiff’s testing methods did not test the origin—i.e., synthetic of natural—of the ingredients. It also claims the plaintiffs’ actions have cost it more than $1 billion in market value.

District Judge Joan Gotschall said National Beverage’s bid for sanctions “makes a sympathetic case” but ultimately ruled that the motion for sanctions relies “on argument and not evidence.”  She also disagreed that the plaintiff employed a “misguided and unreasonable” reading of Food and Drug Administration regulations. “Before examining whether plaintiff’s counsel should have known that the regulation means what defendant says it means,” Gotschall wrote in her decision, “defendant should give the court some basis for believing that plaintiff’s interpretation is unreasonable. Just saying so, even if repeatedly, does not do so.”