[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday in POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co. [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that POM Wonderful can go ahead with a federal false advertising lawsuit under the Lanham Act [text]. Pom Wonderful sued Coca-Cola Co. [corporate websites] for allegedly deceiving consumers about the amount of pomegranate juice in one of its beverages, labeled as “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices.” Pom Wonderful contends that the label is misleading because the beverage contains less than one percent of pomegranate juice or blueberry juice. A federal appeals court barred the suit saying that Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) [text] precludes the suit. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court disagreed:
The ruling that POM’s Lanham Act cause of action is precluded by the FDCA was incorrect. There is no statutory text or established interpretive principle to support the contention that the FDCA precludes Lanham Act suits like the one brought by POM in this case. Nothing in the text, history, or structure of the FDCA or the Lanham Act shows the congressional purpose or design to forbid these suits. Quite to the contrary, the FDCA and the Lanham Act complement each other in the federal regulation of misleading food and beverage labels. Competitors, in their own interest, may bring Lanham Act claims like POM’s that challenge food and beverage labels that are regulated by the FDCA.
Justice Stephen Breyer took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
The court heard arguments in the case in April after granting certiorari [JURIST reports] in January.