Fireball Cinnamon launches lawsuit over small bottles that don’t contain whiskey – NBC Chicago

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In Cook County, Illinois, a plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of Fireball Cinnamon for intentionally misleading packaging.

On January 7, plaintiff Anna Marquez filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging misleading labeling of Fireball Cinnamon, a Chicago resident.

Fireball Cinnamon, made by Sazerac’s parent company, is a line of malt and wine-based spirits designed to “capture the essence” of the original Fireball Cinnamon whiskey, but no actual whiskey.

Miniature bottles of Fireball Cinnamon are sold in stores across the United States that can only sell beer, malt liquor and wine products, such as gas stations and grocery stores, usually for 99 cents, but not the popular bitter Sazerac. . drink brand: Fireball Cinnamon whiskey with whiskey.

Plaintiff’s attorneys presented images of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Fireball Cinnamon for comparison purposes. They also provided images of bottles of Fireball Cinnamon sold at an undisclosed location at a ShopRite supermarket and at a convenience store.

The lawsuit alleges that the labels of these two different products, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Fireball Cinnamon, are practically indistinguishable and therefore a malt or wine-based version of Fireball “induces consumers to mislead consumers into thinking that’s what they’re talking about.” containing or containing distilled spirits.

UNITED STATES COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

A bottle of Fireball Cinnamon, left; Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, right.

Because of all this, Marquez says he bought bottles of Fireball Cinnamon thinking they contained whiskey.

A spokesperson for Sazerac, maker of the two Fireball products, told TODAY.com the company does not comment on pending litigation.

In addition to the product names being too similar, the lawsuit says the fine print on the Fireball Cinnamon bottles is misleading and that the words “With natural whiskey and other flavors” are a “clever ploy.” Label “consumers trying to read” because they believe the phrase “Natural Whiskey” is a separate item from “Other Flavorings”.

“They believe that the product is (1) natural whiskey and (2) a malt liquor with other flavorings,” the lawsuit states. “The meaning of the label is that the product contains ‘natural whiskey flavorings and other flavorings’, but without adding the word ‘flavourings’ after ‘natural whisky’, careful buyers expect the whiskey to have a distilled spirit. added as a separate ingredient.

Also, the court held that even though distilled alcohol, such as whiskey, is used to make flavorings, when it is mixed with other ingredients, it loses its classification as alcohol and is therefore allowed to sell the product. Where there is no Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

The lawsuit cites local news stories that reinforce the idea that the new product caused consumer confusion, including Hudson Valley Country’s 2021 “Since when can you buy fireballs at gas stations in the Hudson Valley?” There is an article. he asks this very question without a solution.

“A fireball at a gas station? I thought it was something you could only buy at a liquor store, right? writes author CJ McIntyre. “I think it’s cinnamon flavored whiskey!!”

“When Fireball is viewed as a brand of distilled spirits, the label misleads consumers into believing that it contains or contains distilled spirits,” the lawsuit says, adding that the same federal and state regulations allow Fireball’s brand name to be used on malt. and wine-based versions, which prohibit a “generally misleading impression” regarding the “‘Fireball Cinnamon version.’

We expect the whiskey to be in small bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’.[was] an easy mistake made by the manufacturer,” the suit explains.

The lawsuit alleges Sazerac violated state consumer fraud laws, breached express warranties and benefited from unjust enrichment and seeks to represent “more than 100” plaintiffs, including Marquez, who purchased the merchandise from “thousands of stores, including grocery stores, big box stores, and more.” gas stations, railway stations and convenience stores.

The FAQ page on Fireball’s official website has many pre-answered questions about the similarities and differences between Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Fireball Cinnamon, including why the company made the malted version in the first place.

“Over the years, we’ve received feedback from customers who want to buy Fireball at a variety of convenience stores, including those that sell beer, malt beverages and wine,” the statement said. One response on Fireball’s website adds that the company currently 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 Whiskey, Fireball Cinnamon malt or wine products can be sold at beer, liquor and wine stores for our fans who want a variety of convenient retail outlets,” we read. “Fireball Whiskey will be available in bars, restaurants and liquor stores nationwide.”

Although Plaintiff Marquez is a resident of Illinois, the lawsuit filed by Spencer Sheehan & Associates is intended to cover anyone in the state, as well as North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South. Carolina or Utah where Fireball bought Cinnamon. The filing states that the plaintiffs will be awarded damages if the lawsuit exceeds $5 million, including “statutory and punitive costs.”

Sheehan is known for filing lawsuits against major food and beverage companies — more than 400 such lawsuits in 2021, according to NPR.

In May 2021, he sued Frito-Lay, accusing it of not using enough real lime juice in its Lime Tip Tostitos; then in October of that year, Sheehan sued Kellogg for falsely advertising the strawberry content of its Frozen Strawberry Pop-Tarts.

More recently, in November 2022, Sheehan’s firm represented a woman who filed a lawsuit against Velveeta, claiming that it takes more than 3.5 minutes to make Shells & Cheese.

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from today:

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