L.A. billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of pomegranate juice maker POM Wonderful LLC, are getting a taste of their own antioxidant elixir litigation.
The Resnicks have used the courts to attack competitors who allegedly have marketed their drinks by piggybacking on POM’s success. The suits have claimed that competitors’ drinks aren’t pure pomegranate and thus don’t have the same health benefits.
Comes now a lawsuit that alleges POM’s health claims are bunk, misleading consumers to shell out $4.69 for a 16-ounce bottle for ruby red fruit juices that don’t have any real healing power.
Michael Kelly, an El Segundo attorney who filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month, said POM’s strategy is to give its product a cult following based on dubious restorative properties.
“The marketing effort is to not get someone to buy it one time,” Kelly said, “but to create a perceived need by people to buy your drink.”
The suit alleges that POM has no basis to claim that the antioxidants in its 100 percent-pure pomegranate juice can prevent, mitigate or treat prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction and other age-related medical conditions. The suit was filed by two local people who are seeking class-action status.
POM’s Web site states that the company has spent more than $32 million on medical research to show its products have health benefits.
In a statement to the Business Journal, POM said the lawsuit is based on inaccuracies and hyperbole, and should be dismissed. The company said its advertising takes a light approach that isn’t designed to fool anyone.
“We are confident that our advertising meets these high standards,” POM said in the statement, “and that consumers recognize that we use puffery and humor to communicate these meaningful health messages.”
POM, which is part of the Resnicks’ West L.A. private holding company Roll International Corp., sued beverage giants Welch’s, Tropicana Products Inc. and Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. in January, and Coca-Cola Co. and food supplier Fresherized Foods Inc. in September of last year. POM alleged the companies confused consumers into thinking that their products provide the same health benefits as POM’s.
POM settled with Fort Worth, Texas-based Fresherized Foods in June. The company is still battling the four other suits.
Rami Yanni, a Century City attorney who is familiar with the company’s litigation but is not involved, said the class-action suit against POM is an attack on the basic sales message of the product.
“The entire premise of the marketing of POM’s product, the superior health benefits of this product, is being put in question,” he said.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.
Stories You May Also Be Interested In
- Pomegranate Juice Maker Squeezes Back
- Texas Competitor Settles with Pom Wonderful
- Pomegranate Juice Feud Spills Into Court
- POM Wins Suit
- Juice Maker Pursues Rivals Fresh Off of Court Victory
- FTC Bars POM Juice's Health Claims
- FDA Forces Drink Maker to Can Health Claims
- Court Upholds Deceptive Ad Charge Against Resnicks’ POM Wonderful