A lawsuit filed in March against Kona Brewing Company is finally underway after a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Kona on September 1. The lawsuit alleges the company mislead customers into believing the beer is brewed in Hawaii, and the judge said that Hawaii is “a state as well as a state of mind.”
Transparency in craft beer is an increasingly big issue as large brewing companies such as AB InBev buy up smaller craft breweries. Understandably, consumers are put off by any kind of false advertising or misrepresentation by companies big and small.
Reuters reports that the Craft Brew Alliance filed a motion for dismissal in the case, which was subsequently denied by federal judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California. Freeman determined the lawsuit could proceed, which claims that consumers overpaid for beer they were misled into believing was from Hawaii. Freeman argued that “The Hawaiian address, the map of Hawaii identifying Kona’s brewery on the Big Island, and the statement ‘visit our brewery and pubs whenever you are in Hawaii’…are specific and measurable representations of fact that could deceive a reasonable consumer.”
Kona Brewing does have a strong defense, noting that they advertise brewing the beer in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington as well as Hawaii on their website. Furthermore, the plaintiffs will have to show they sustained damages as a result of the alleged misrepresentation of Kona’s brewery locations.