Coca-Cola Defeats Lawsuit Against Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers, Dismissing Deceptive Labeling Accusations
Coca-Cola has successfully dismissed a proposed class action suit that accused their Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzers of deceptive marketing.
The dismissal marks the latest in a string of lawsuits that has swept the hard seltzer industry in recent years. Since 2021, Bud Light Platinum Hard Seltzer, Dos Equis Ranch Water and Travis Scott’s Cacti Agave Seltzer have all been hit with nearly identical suits — beverage giant AB InBev even had to pay out $6,000,000 on behalf of its Lime-A-Rita line of mixed drinks.
So why all the controversy?
As with every one of the other suits, the accusations against Topo Chico centered around the absence of tequila.
Plaintiff Kari Warren alleged that the language of “Margarita” and “tequila flavors” misled consumers into thinking the drinks contained actual distilled spirits. In truth, Topo Chico Hard Seltzers are made with a malted alcohol base akin to that of White Claw or beer.
Though similar cases have successfully gone to trial and resulted in multi-million dollar payouts, the judge found little grounds for the claim.
“Plaintiff attempts to strip the term ‘hard’ of its context, contending that it predominantly refers to distilled spirits,” said Judge Siebel. “That might be so when used in the phrase ‘hard liquor,’ but it is manifestly not so in the phrases ‘hard cider’ or ‘hard lemonade.'”
“Even assuming that she moved to New York right before buying the product, she plainly was familiar with a margarita cocktail, and surely knew that nobody sells a margarita for $1.50,” continued the judge.
Interestingly, Lime-A-Rita lost its 2022 suit based on the exact same verbiage of “Margarita” in its packaging. It’s difficult to tell what played out differently in the case of Topo Chico other than the fact that Coca-Cola clearly wasn’t willing to go down without a fight.
Initially founded in Monterrey, Mexico in 1895, Topo Chico has gradually ballooned into a cult hit within the United States over the decades. In 2017, The Coca-Cola Company moved in to acquire Topo Chico for $220 million and has since expanded the brand with a line-up of alcoholic hard seltzers and distilled spirit cocktails.
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