Asahi Beer settles false advertising class action over “not” made in Japan consumer action; we’ve got the details

There’s finally an end to the Asahi Beer class action saga.

A breif recap in case you don’t spend every hour of your day, like we do, monitoring alcoholic beverage false advertising suits.

In short, Asahi began selling beer in Japan in 1987, the Asahi U.S. subsidiary started around 1998. For nearly 15 years now Asahi Super Dry Beer distributed in the US has been brewed and bottled under Asahi’s supervision by Molson in Vancouver, Canada.

The labels even contain statements about the beer’s manufacturing, such as “BREWED AND BOTTLED UNDER ASAHI’S SUPERVISION BY MOLSON CANADA, TORONTO, CANADA. IMPORTED BY ASAHI BEER U.S.A., INC. TORRANCE, CA PRODUCT OF CANADA.” Here is the neck label from an approved COLA:

Asahi class action complaint over false advertising lawsuit for made in japan issues
Asahi neck label from COLA

In early 2017 plaintiffs brough suits against Asahi alleging the beer labels deceived consumers and on account of the deception, “the Plaintiffs and other members of the proposed Classes purchased the Product reasonably believing it was brewed in Japan,” and they wouldn’t have paid a “premium” for Asahi had they known it came from Canada.

The federal court rejected an attempt by Asahi to dismiss the action by arguing the TTB”s approval of the labels created a safe harbor, and arguing that no “reasonable” consumer would be misled by the Japanese script and other Japanese elements and branding on the bottles.

The parties started negotiating settlement shortly after the denial and the suit was for a time dismissed, then re-filed in state court, and has finally settled.

According to this settlement agreement  each class member who submits a proper claim that is allowed (no proof of purchase necessary) can  get up to a maximum $10 refund per household based on the refunds of $0.50 per six pack, $0.10 per big bottle, $1.00 per 12-pack cans and $2.00 for 24 pack cans, attorneys fees and expenses award could be up to $765,000 and the estimated costs for administration of the settlement are $300,000 as confirmed in this “Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement” by the court.

Additionally, the settlement requires use of a new neck label on the bottle that reads “Product of Canada” – this is the exhibit from the settlement agreement:

Asahi class action complaint over false advertising lawsuit for made in japan issues
Exemplar new neck label from Asahi false advertising class action settlement

You can find the settlement website and information here.

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: