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Coca Cola must face US court case over how it describes its orange drinks

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

March 2, 2013 | 3 min read

Can a manufacturer really be hauled over the coals over the name he chooses to give his orange drink? Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, is about to find out.

Coke faces court case

A judge has ruled they must face a consumer lawsuit over the Simply Orange, Minute Maid Premium and Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice brands.

The consumers allege in court filings, reported by Bloomberg, that Coca-Cola has marketed Simply Orange as “100 percent pure squeeze” and “not from concentrate” since 2006. In truth, say the consumers , the juice is “chemically flavored, heavily processed, designed and modified and is not “100% pure squeezed,” “simply orange,” “pure” or “natural.”

The plaintiffs says such labeling is deceptive and violates state consumer- protection laws, according to Bloomberg .

Earlier Coca-Cola asked Judge Fernando Gaitan, in Kansas City, to throw the case out, saying the plaintiffs' claims were based on promotional statements, "such as the Simply Orange and Minute Maid Pure Squeezed product names."

Those names, said Coca Cola , are “indisputably true, not capable of misleading reasonable consumers as a matter of law or constitute non-actionable puffery.”

The judge didn't buy that . In his ruling he said the allegations were sufficient to overcome defence arguments that the company’s claims were so-called puffery or that the case was barred by federal law.

Th judge also rejected Coca-Cola’s claim the consumers failed to show they had been injured.

“Plaintiffs have asserted false advertising, misrepresentation and deceptive practices claims,” he said in a nine-page ruling.

The complaint, which combines 13 different cases, says Coca cola has also made misleading representations about Minute Maid products.

Coca-Cola’s PR department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling, said Bloomberg.

The combined complaint, filed with the Kansas City court in August, included plaintiffs from New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Alabama.

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