MillerCoors successfully argued to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California that no “reasonable consumer” would be deceived by its advertising of Blue Moon beer.
Advertisements are merely ‘non-actionable puffery’
Plaintiff Evan Parent, who called himself a “beer aficionado” in the court document alleged that MillerCoors falsely represented itself as a “craft beer” when it is really mass produced at MillerCoors facilities.
He said that MillerCoors depicted Blue Moon as being “Artfully crafted” at a “small, limited capacity brewpub known as ‘The SandLot Brewery,’” when in fact it is brewed at MillerCoors’s facilities in Golden, Colorado, and Eden, North Carolina.
Parent said Blue Moon cannot be classed as a craft beer because MillerCoors does not meet the definition of a craft brewer, as provided by the Brewers Association. He cited that the company exceeds the standard 6m barrel production cap and a non craft-brewer ownership of less than 25% put forth by the trade organization.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel ruled that Blue Moon Brewing Co.’s use of the term “Artfully crafted” is not a misrepresentation of the brand because there is no standard definition of “craft beer.”
Curiel also wrote that Blue Moon’s advertisement videos “The Story of Blue Moon,” “The SandLot Guys,” and “Our Approach to Brewing” are merely “non-actionable puffery.”
Unfair price markup
Another issue Parent raised in the court document was the “premium price” he said that consumers have to pay for Blue Moon beer on the guise that it is craft beer.
Parent said MillerCoors produces 76 million barrels of beer per year, yet stocks Blue Moon with other craft beers in retail stores so it can charge "up to 50% more for Blue Moon" where it poses as a craft beer.
However, Curiel also found that MillerCoors has no control over where third-party distributors stock its products on retail shelves, and that its pricing of Blue Moon beer does not constitute as a misrepresentation.
Judge silences complaint indefinitely
The dismissed lawsuit is the second time the plaintiff filed a complaint against MillerCoors over its misrepresentation of Blue Moon Belgium beer. The court allowed Parent to file an amended claim in October 2015, which was ultimately dismissed.
“The court previously found that plaintiff had failed to point to any case ‘supporting the proposition that the price of a product can constitute a representation or statement about the product,'” Curiel wrote. “Plaintiff has again failed to do so here.”
The Blue Moon Deceptive Marketing Class Action Lawsuit is Evan Parent v. MillerCoors LLC, et al., Case No. 3:15-cv-01204, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.