CHICACO -- A putative class action lawsuit claims that Nestlé Waters North America Inc. has been selling bottles of municipal tap water and falsely marketing it to consumers as 100% spring-sourced natural water.
Plaintiff Chicago Faucet Shoppe Inc. asserts that Nestlé has falsely represented to consumers that 5-gal. bottles of Ice Mountain water are sourced from springs and contain only naturally occurring minerals, when the jugs are actually filled with tap water. Chicago Faucet Shoppe bought the water for its offices.
The class action suit was filed Oct. 10 in the Illinois Northern District Court on behalf of consumers in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri who bought Ice Mountain brand water in the 5-gal. bottles promoted as 100% natural and spring-sourced. News of the lawsuit was first reported by FoodNavigator USA.
The complaint recognizes that there are many bottled water brands which do not make a spring water claim, and they are assumed to be repackaged tap water, FoodNavigator said. These sell for far less than genuine spring water.
The lawsuit seeks attorneys' fees, punitive damages and recovery from Nestlé Waters North America, which is the largest bottled-water company in the U.S. with about 40% market share.
The water giant has been sued on similar grounds before. In June 2003, it was sued for false advertising in a class action that charged its Poland Spring brand is heavily treated common ground water. The suit was settled in September 2003, with the company not admitting to the allegations, but agreeing to pay $10 million in charity donations and discounts over five years. Nestlé continues to sell the same Maine water under the Poland Spring name.