ST. LOUIS — A federal lawsuit filed contends Anheuser-Busch is misleading consumers into believing certain products, such as its Lime-A-Rita beverages, contain alcohol other than beer.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court of Southern New York, seeks class-action status, and says consumers have unwittingly bought the company's line of margarita, rosé, mojito and sangria-flavored products believing they contained tequila, wine or rum.
“The Ritas family of products is a well-known line of malt beverages enjoyed by consumers for their flavor-packed refreshment. We believe this lawsuit is without merit and will defend against it," an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said in a statement emailed Tuesday to the Business Journal.
One plaintiff, Tanya Cooper of Bedford Hills, New York, is described in the complaint as having bought a 12-pack of Lime-A-Rita in December believing that it contained tequila because the packaging included the word "margarita" and the image of a salted glass.
"Moreover, nowhere on the packaging did Ms. Cooper see a disclaimer or any other statement indicating that the margarita product does not contain tequila, or that the product is just a flavored beer," the complaint states. "Had Ms. Cooper known that the margarita product did not contain tequila, she would not have purchased it or would have paid significantly less for it."
The lawsuit says the expectation from consumers isn't unreasonable considering competing alcohol brands sell similar canned products, such as Jose Cuervo Sparkling Margaritas, that contain other alcohols.
In addition to class action status, the lawsuit seeks a jury trial and the payment of damages, including lawyers fees.