A lawsuit alleging that Poland Spring’s bottled water does not come from a spring has been dismissed by a federal judge in Connecticut.
The lawsuit, filed last summer, said that the source of the bottled water isn’t natural springs but rather “ordinary groundwater” from wells in Maine.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer dismissed the lawsuit late Thursday on narrow legal grounds, essentially finding that the group of consumers who sued can’t use state law to enforce the federal standard for what constitutes “spring water.” He also dismissed three related suits against Nestlé Waters, the parent company of Poland Spring. A fifth case was filed in federal court in Connecticut too late to be consolidated with the other four and wasn’t dismissed, but Meyer said he believes his ruling to dismiss can be applied in that case as well.
Meyer made clear that he didn’t side with Nestlé Waters on many of its legal arguments in the case, but decided that the consumers who sued were going about it the wrong way. For instance, he said Nestlé Waters argued that prior lawsuits over the issue of whether the water was actually from a spring “put plaintiffs on notice that Poland Spring’s ‘spring water’ labels were false,” Meyer said, while the company was also making “steadfast denials” that the water was mislabeled.
“Nestlé cannot have it both ways,” Meyer said, “that plaintiffs somehow ‘knew’ Nestlé’s labels were false but that Nestlé’s labels were not in fact false.”
“We are pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss this meritless lawsuit,” said Charles Broll, Nestlé Waters’ executive vice president and general counsel. “Poland Spring is what we have always said it is – 100 percent natural spring water. Consumers can be confident in the honesty and accuracy of the labels on every bottle of Poland Spring.”
One of the lawyers for the consumers who sued said an amended complaint would be filed soon. In his opinion, Meyer gave the consumers a month to refile.
“We appreciate that the court rejected all of Nestle’s arguments except one,” said Alexander Schmidt, a lawyer in New Jersey who represents the consumers. “The decision did not address the accuracy of our detailed factual allegations, which we look forward to proving.”