A class action lawsuit has been filed in Cook County, Illinois against the makers of Fireball Cinnamon for what plaintiff alleges willfully misleading packaging.
On Jan. 7, plaintiff Anna Marquez filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, alleging what the Chicago resident calls misleading labeling on Fireball Cinnamon.
Made by parent company Sazerac, Fireball Cinnamon is a product suite that includes malt and wine-based alcoholic beverages designed to “capture the essence” of the original Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey – but contains no actual whiskey.
Miniature bottles of Fireball Cinnamon are sold in stores in the United States that can only sell beer, malt beverages and wine products, such as gas stations and grocery stores, usually for 99 cents – but are not the same product as the better known spicy Sazerac. brand of drink: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, which actually contains whisky.
Plaintiff’s attorneys provided images of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Fireball Cinnamon for comparison purposes. They also provided images of bottles of Fireball Cinnamon being sold both at a ShopRite supermarket in an undisclosed location and being sold at what appears to be a convenience store.
The lawsuit alleges that the labels of these two distinct products: “Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey” and “Fireball Cinnamon” are virtually indistinguishable from each other and because of this, the malt or wine-based version of Fireball induces mislead “consumers into believing that it is or contains distilled spirits.
Because of all this, Marquez says she bought bottles of Fireball Cinnamon assuming they contained whiskey, which they didn’t.
A representative for Sazerac, the makers of the two Fireball products, told TODAY.com the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The lawsuit further alleges that in addition to the titles of the products being too similar to distinguish, the fine print on the Fireball Cinnamon bottles is also misleading, writing that the words “With Natural Whiskey & Other Flavors” are a “clever trick “. of expression” because “consumers straining to read” the label will assume that the phrase “Natural Whiskey” is a separate item from “Other Flavours”.
“They will think the product is a malt drink with (1) natural whiskey and (2) other flavors added,” the lawsuit states. “What the label means is that the product contains ‘natural whiskey flavorings and other flavourings’, but by not including the word ‘flavourings’ after ‘natural whiskey’, buyers who look closely s will expect the distilled spirit of the whiskey to have been added as a separate ingredient.
The lawsuit also says that even if a distilled spirit like whiskey was used to make flavorings, it loses its classification as a spirit when mixed with other ingredients – which is why the product is allowed to be sold. in places where Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey is not.
The lawsuit cites local news reports that reinforce the idea that the new product has caused confusion among consumers, including a 2021 article from the Hudson Valley country titled “Since when can you buy a fireball at gas stations in the Hudson Valley?” which asks this same question without resolution.
“Fireball at a gas station? I thought that was something you could only buy at a liquor store, right? writes author CJ McIntyre. “I mean it’s cinnamon flavored whiskey!!”
“When viewed with the brand name of distilled spirits Fireball, the label misleads consumers into believing that it is or contains distilled spirits,” the lawsuit reads, adding that while identical federal and state regulations permit the use of the Fireball brand name on malt- and wine-based versions, they prohibit “the general misleading impression created” as to the “‘Fireball Cinnamon’ version”.
“Expecting those little bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ to contain whiskey”[was] an easy mistake to make and intended by the manufacturer,” the costume explains.
The lawsuit claims Sazerac violated state consumer fraud laws, breached express warranty and benefited from unjust enrichment and seeks to represent “more than 100” plaintiffs in addition to Marquez who bought the item in “thousands of stores, including grocery stores, big box stores, gas stations, train stations and convenience stores.
On the FAQ page of the official Fireball website, there are many pre-answered questions devoted to the similarities and differences between Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Fireball Cinnamon, including why the company says it created the malted version in the first place.
“Over the years, we have received feedback from consumers wanting to buy Fireball from a wider variety of convenient stores, including stores that can only sell beer, malt beverages and wine products,” it reads. in one of the answers on the Fireball website, adding that the company now offers Fireball in approximately 170,000 stores in the United States which can only sell beer, malt beverages and wine products, but not whiskey .
“Unlike Fireball Whisky, Fireball Cinnamon malt or wine products can be sold in beer, malt beverage and wine stores for our fans who want a wider variety of convenient outlets,” reads- we. “Fireball Whiskey continues to be available in bars, restaurants and liquor stores across the country.”
Although plaintiff Marquez is a resident of Illinois, the lawsuit, brought by Spencer Sheehan and Associates, is intended to cover anyone in the state and also in North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska , Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina or Utah who purchased Fireball Cinnamon. The filing says the amount of damages for plaintiffs if the lawsuit exceeded “$5 million, including statutory and punitive damages.”
Sheehan is well known for filing lawsuits against major food and beverage companies — more than 400 such lawsuits, as NPR reported in 2021.
In May 2021, he sued Frito-Lay alleging that he did not use enough real lime juice in his “Hint of Lime” Tostitos; then in October of that year, Sheehan filed a lawsuit against Kellogg’s accusing the company of falsely advertising the strawberry content of its Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Most recently, in November 2022, Sheehan’s firm represented a woman who filed a lawsuit against Velveeta, claiming her Shells & Cheese takes over 3.5 minutes to make.
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