A federal court jury in Los Angeles recently found that juice maker Welch's intentionally misled consumers with false and deceptive labeling on its "100% Juice White Grape Pomegranate" product. In reality, each 64oz bottle contains over 63oz of inexpensive apple and white grape filler juices, plus additional color and flavor enhancers. Less than a single ounce per bottle is actually pomegranate juice.
The verdict is the culmination of a nearly two-week trial during which POM Wonderful argued that Welch's misleading labeling was a violation of the Lanham Act, which allows businesses to seek relief from competitors who are engaging in false advertising. POM Wonderful sells 100% pure pomegranate juice.
During the trial, POM successfully demonstrated that the product's labeling, which features large, prominently placed images of pomegranates on the front label, was intentionally designed to trick consumers into believing the product contained a substantial quantity of pomegranate juice.
Throughout the trial, several witnesses testified that they had bought the Welch's product believing it contained large amounts of pomegranate juice. All of these witnesses were seeking the widely documented health giving properties of pomegranate juice. When they learned that the product contained less than one ounce of pomegranate juice in a 64-ounce bottle, they were surprised and felt cheated.
During the initial phase of trial, in which the judge did not permit testimony from POM's damages expert, the jury did not find that POM sustained injury due to the deceptively labeled Welch's product.
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