Hard Seltzer and Kombucha Producer Sued for Misrepresentation

A suit was filed on Sunday in the Northern District of Illinois by plaintiff Katie Kuciver against defendant Fermented Sciences, Inc. over allegations that the company is unlawfully misrepresenting the products they are putting on the market.

Fermented Sciences is a manufacturer and marketer of hard seltzers and hard kombucha. Their products, according to the complaint, are promoted as containing antioxidant vitamin C, antioxidants, real botanicals, and being crafted with live probiotics. The front labeling of Fermented Sciences’ seltzer and kombucha note that the beverages have antioxidant vitamin C and live probiotics. The kombucha even lists certain benefits on the back of the product that accompany the beverage.

The complaint notes that the health benefits of the drinks are listed despite USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans advising that “alcoholic beverages are ‘not a component of the USDA Dietary Patterns.’” Considering this, Kuciver finds the statements touting health benefits of alcoholic products misleading at best. She alleges that the packaging and marketing of the respective products violates the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, which asserts that the misrepresentation of a product is unlawful.

Kuciver claims that Fermented Sciences advertises their products in a way that would lead the reasonable consumer to expect that the Products are a healthful source of nutrients and dietary ingredients,” not that the products “contain labeling which expressly violates the policies and regulations of this state and nation.”

The plaintiff believes that the misconduct on behalf of the defendant gives them an unfair advantage against other companies in the market. If the products had been truthfully marketed, Kuciver advocates that consumers “would not have bought the products or would have paid less for it.”

The plaintiff is seeking class certification for the Illinois class and the consumer fraud multi-state class (persons in North Dakota, Kansas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Delaware who purchased the product). The complaint cites a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, State Consumer Fraud Acts, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment. Kuciver is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, monetary, statutory, and punitive damages, and fees.

Kuciver is represented by Sheehan & Associates.