$1 Million Settlement Reached In Coconut Water Class Action

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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Plaintiffs in the Harmless Harvest Coconut Water class action have filed an unopposed motion for preliminary settlement approval in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The settlement in question calls for Defendant, Harmless Harvest, to pay plaintiffs nearly $1 million in damages in addition to making label changes to its Coconut Water products and consulting with a third party as to the accuracy of its labels.

 

The suit itself was only just filed on December 23, 2016 with named plaintiffs Guoliang Ma, Elizabeth Peguero, Sharon Manier and Kim Fai Lau, and alleges that Defendant was purposefully misleading the public by advertising its coconut water products as “raw” and “100% organic.” In the complaint, Plaintiffs claim that despite promotional and labeling on the products claiming to be 100% organically sourced, in actuality the products contain coconuts from a variety of dubious sources. Ingredient sources include plantations with no organic certification, coconuts from street vendors whose products come from unknown sources, as well as from farmers who were allegedly forced by Harmless Harvest to sign “farmer’s agreements” pledging that their produce was grown using organic farming techniques.

 Plaintiffs further argued that the defendant was trying to capitalize on the American public’s fascination with organically sourced produce. Affected products include Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water, Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water-Dark Cacao, Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water-Cinnamon and Clove and Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water-Fair Trade Coffee.

The class extends to all consumers who made a retail purchase of one or more of Harmless Harvest’s Coconut Water products anytime from September 30, 2011 through date of preliminary approval of the settlement. The settlement includes $575,000 in attorney fees as well as $20,000 in damages to the named Plaintiffs.

 The case is: Guoliang Ma, et al. v. Harmless Harvest Inc., Case No. 2:16-cv-07102, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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