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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Prisoner’s Coke Claim Canned by Court

WASHINGTON (CN) - A prisoner cannot sue Coca-Cola for claiming its drinks contain the original formula that he alleges the company ditched over 100 years ago, a federal judge ruled.

Prisoner Owen Silvious filed a complaint against the Coca-Cola Company and the Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company in October 2011.

Chemist J. Pemberton came up with the original formula in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886, but Coca-Cola discontinued use of the recipe no later than 1899, according to Silvious' pro se complaint.

Silvious claims the companies deceive consumers by selling drinks in containers that say either "Coke Classic Original Formula" or "Coke Original Formula."

Silvious, who has been behind bars since 2005, says he is representing another individual who allegedly bought the drinks in the District of Columbia and assigned his interest to him.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the prisoner's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on Friday.

Walton struck the assignment document from the record, finding that the alleged assignor is likely one of Silvious' fellow inmates at the Butner facility in North Carolina, and not an individual living in D.C.

The judge found that because Silvious is not an attorney, he cannot represent someone else's interest. Walton's order denies Silvious the opportunity to file a second-amended complaint.

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