A class-action lawsuit filed this week claims the water doesn't come from a spring.
At this point, many consumers understand that not all bottled water comes from natural springs. Major brands like Coca-Cola’s Dasani and PepsiCo’s Aquafina are simply purified water pulled from local sources. But with a name like Poland Spring, you’d assume the Maine-based water brand owned by Nestle actually comes from springs. It even says right on the label, “100% Natural Spring Water.” However, a new lawsuit alleges that isn’t the case.
A 325-page class-action lawsuit calls Poland Springs “a colossal fraud perpetuated against American consumers,” accusing the brand of false advertising, deceptive labeling, breach of contract and other violations. At the heart of the suit’s argument is a claim that “not one drop” of the water bottled by the brand since 1993 adheres to the FDA’s definition of spring water; instead, the plaintiffs allege the product is simply ground water.
Funny enough, though the brand states on its website that it pulls water from eight different springs, the suit also claims that the actual Poland Spring in Poland Spring, Maine, “ran dry nearly 50 years ago.” (To be fair, the fine print on the label does state “Poland Spring Brand” water.) “The ‘spring’ Defendant now claims exists in Poland Spring is at the bottom of a lake,” the suit continues. “It has never been proven to exist, and the evidence that Defendant itself filed with Maine regulators shows it does not exist.” The complaint is seeking at least $5 million in damages.
For its part, a spokesperson for Nestle Waters North America told Consumerist that the lawsuit was “an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain.”
“Poland Spring is 100 percent spring water,” the company said in its statement. “It meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations defining spring water, all state regulations governing spring classification for standards of identity, as well as all federal and state regulations governing spring water collection, good manufacturing practices, product quality, and labeling. We remain highly confident in our legal position.”
Interestingly, Poland Spring settled a very similar class-action lawsuit out of court in 2003. At the time, the brand didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, but agreed to increase quality control and pay out $10 million to charities and as discounts to consumers, according to NPR. You’d think that after that incident, the company would have learned its lesson. Apparently, now we’ll get a chance to find out if they did.