This lawsuit sought to prohibit Coke and the ABA from misleading the public about the health harms associated with sugary drink consumption.
In July 2017, CSPI's Litigation Department along with its co-counsel filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia on behalf of Pastors William H. Lamar IV and Delman L. Coates and the nonprofit Praxis Project against the Coca-Cola Company and its trade association, the American Beverage Association (“ABA”).
The Advertising Campaign
Coke and ABA's advertising campaign attacks the credible science linking the consumption of sugary drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease while promoting lack of exercise as the primary driver of these diseases, according to the suit.
The lawsuit contended that Coke and the ABA engaged in an unlawful campaign of deception to mislead and confuse the public about the health harms related to sugary drinks. It alleged causes of action under the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (“DCCPPA”).
On January 22, 2019, the ABA was dismissed from the suit because it was found not to be a merchant under the DCCPPA. On October 1, 2019, the court issued an Order finding that at least one of the plaintiffs has standing to bring this challenge under the DCCPPA, that a three-year statute of limitations applies (clarifying which statements made by Coke remained in the case), and that the Plaintiffs may file an amended complaint.
Once these issues were decided, and knowing that Plaintiffs were represented by three firms and organizations, CSPI’s Litigation Department withdrew from the case on November 1, 2019.
On November 15, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint. On February 8, 2021, following a second motion to dismiss, the Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.
Outcome: Voluntarily dismissed
Plaintiffs: Pastor William H. Lamar IV, Pastor Delman L. Coates, and the Praxis Project
Counsel: CSPI's Litigation Department (until its withdrawal in Nov. 2019), Public Health Advocacy Institute, Reese LLP, and Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, LLP
Jurisdiction & Case Number: 2017 CA 004801 B (D.C. Super. Ct.)