‘Sorry, Mon, You Can’t Sue Red Stripe’

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Beer drinkers can’t sue the makers of Red Stripe for labeling it as Jamaican style beer though it’s been made in the United States since 2012, a federal judge said, dismissing the putative class action without prejudice.
     Aaron Dumas and Eugene Buner sued Diageo-Guinness, claiming they bought Red Stripe because its label calls it “Jamaican Style Lager” with “The Taste of Jamaica.” They sought class certification and damages for false advertising, unfair competition, business law violations and negligent and intentional misrepresentation.
     Red Stripe has been brewed in Jamaica since 1938, and has been imported to the United States since 1985. Diageo-Guinness’s predecessor bought the rights to Red Stripe in 1993 and moved its production to the United States in 2012. Today it’s made in Latrobe, Pa., by City Brewing Co.
     U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz dismissed the complaint on April 6.
     “(T)he Court finds that a reasonable customer would not be misled by the visible packaging into believing that Red Stripe is brewed in Jamaica with Jamaican ingredients,” Moskowitz wrote. “The mere fact that the word ‘Jamaica’ and ‘Jamaican’ appear on the packaging is not sufficient to support a conclusion that consumers would be confused regarding the origin and ingredients of the beer.”
     The judge cited, among other things, Forschner Group, Inc. v. Arrow Trading Co., Inc., 30 F.3d 348, 355 (2d Cir. 1994), in which the Second Circuit held that the phrase “Swiss Army knife” cannot fairly be read to mean “made in Switzerland.”
     He concluded: “Plaintiffs cannot state a claim for deception or misrepresentation based on the Red Stripe bottle labels or packaging for the 12-packs or 6-packs. However, the Court will grant plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint to assert claims based on other facts. If plaintiffs choose to amend their complaint, they must file their amended complaint within 15 days of the filing of this order.”

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