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Regulating Communications

Becerra v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.


Becerra v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. (U.S. Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit, Dec. 30, 2019): The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a complaint alleging that Dr. Pepper/Seven Up violated California consumer-fraud laws by use of the word “diet” in its product Diet Dr. Pepper®. The court concluded that the complaint failed to sufficiently allege that a significant portion of reasonable, or targeted, consumers would be misled and read the word “diet” in the label as promising weight loss or healthy weight management. Branding the soda with that term does not convey an implicit promise of weight loss. Instead, the court concluded that the prevalent understanding of “diet” is that it is simply a relative claim indicating that “diet” soft drinks contain fewer calories and sugar than “regular” soft drinks. Becerra also argued that regardless of the common understanding of the word, dismissal was improper because a promise of weight loss is a plausible misunderstanding of the word. The court concluded a consumer’s unreasonable interpretation does not render the use of “diet” in a soda’s brand name false or deceptive. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – February 18, 2020.

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