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:
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:
You can find the settlement website and information here.