Nestle SA will have to go to trial over misrepresenting its source of water for the Poland Spring brand now that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer decided that Nestle could not dismiss this lawsuit.
By: Ron Naugher
According to the judge, consumers from eight northeastern states can continue with this lawsuit over the fact that Poland Spring advertised its water as coming from “100% Natural Spring Water.” Misleading water bottle labels are not unusual. Just think about any of your favorite bottled water brands and their names, descriptions, and imagery on the labels. If you look closely enough on these bottles, you may often find that in small print, in color that hardly contrasts with the label, disclosure that the water was bottled at a random water municipal plant.
Even though plaintiffs are arguing in the lawsuit that the marketing by Nestle Waters is misleading, the company still says it committed “no fraud” because they’ve always been in compliance with the water requirements set forth by each state.
“We remain highly confident in our legal position and will continue to defend our Poland Spring brand vigorously against this meritless lawsuit,” according to Nestle Waters spokeswoman, speaking through a statement on Thursday. “Poland Spring brand natural spring water is just what it says it is—100 percent natural spring water.”
The lawsuit alleges that Poland Spring does not use any natural water resources for any of its products. Maine is where the Poland Spring is, and according to the lawsuit, even if Nestle had operations up there in Maine, it wouldn’t matter much because almost a half a century ago, the water source “commercially ran dry.”
Even though this judge dismissed this lawsuit earlier, this amended version had him “convinced” that it should go to trial because “the plaintiffs would try to show only that Poland Spring water did not meet the states’ individual spring water standards, though they appeared to “mirror” the federal standard,” according to Vos Iz Neais News.
The case is Patane v. Nestle Waters North America Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 17-01381.
As for the actual backstory for the Poland Spring, origins go back to the 18th century. In 1797, The Wentworth Ricker Inn opened at the homestead of Jabez Ricker. In 1844, property owner Jabez Ricker grandson, Hiram Ricker, grandson of property owner Jabez Ricker, drank water from the Poland Spring and said that it cured his chronic indigestion.
In 1861, the inn became a resort known as The Mansion House. Hiram talked with guests about the water, and that led them also praising the drinking water. In this period, it was quite fashionable to “take the waters” for almost all illnesses, causing an uptick in business. The Rickers soon began bottling the water.
Expanded again into an extravagant resort that locals dubbed “Ricker’s Folly”, the inn was renamed the Poland Spring House and opened On July 4, 1876. The inn remained a significant resort into the early 20th century, but the Ricker family lost control of the company during the 1930s. A resort still operates on the site.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that any suggestions that marketing by Nestle Waters is or was misleading at any time are allegations made by the plaintiffs.