Recent Suits Alleging Domestic Beers Masquerading as Imports Fall Flat
By Kelly M. Morrison
In 2013, a putative class action was filed against Anheuser-Busch alleging that it mislead consumers into believing that Beck’s beer is a German import, when in fact the company had begun brewing it in St. Louis the prior year. Plaintiffs claimed that labeling statements such as “Originated in Germany,” “German Quality,” and “Brewed Under the German Purity Law of 1516,” along with “Beck’s history of being an imported beer from Germany,” caused consumers to believe they were purchasing beer brewed in Germany. The Defendant pointed out that the label disclosed that the beer was a “Product of USA, Brauerei Beck & Co., St. Louis, MO,” and the carton stated “Brauerei Beck & Co., Beck’s Beer, St. Louis, MO,” but the Court declined to dismiss the case on the pleadings. Marty v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., LLC, 43 F. Supp. 3d 1333 (S.D. Fla. 2014). It later settled for over $20 million.
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