POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola

Topic(s): 
Consumer Justice
Preemption of Consumer Remedies
Docket Number: 
12-761
Case Description: 

POM Wonderful LLC brought this action against the Coca-Cola Company, stating a false-advertising claim under the Lanham Act, among other claims, alleging that Coca-Cola’s advertising, name, and labeling of its Minute Maid “Pomegranate Blueberry” juice was false or misleading. The court of appeals held that POM’s Lanham Act claim is barred by the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of beverage labeling, and POM sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court. Public Citizen, on behalf of itself, AARP, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, filed an amicus brief in support of POM’s position. The brief argued that both the FDA regulation and the Lanham Act easily can co-exist: Congress specified that a state-law claim that is substantially similar to POM’s Lanham Act claim is not preempted. Congress thus specified that such challenges pose no threat to FDA regulation. If enforcement of state laws on these subjects is not inconsistent with the NLEA, it follows that enforcement of other federal laws that address these subjects also is not inconsistent with the NLEA. In addition, the FDA has acknowledged that it does not have the resources to address and does not address misleading food and beverage labeling. Private enforcement is therefore the only existing mechanism for deterring and addressing misleading food labeling.

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the decision below and ruled for POM.