A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the makers of Fireball Cinnamon, Sazerac, in Cook County, Illinois over what the plaintiff alleges is misleading packaging.
The lawsuit, filed on January 7th, 2021, by Plaintiff Anna Marquez, claims that the labeling on the malt-based and wine-based alcoholic beverages is deceptive, as the products are made to “capture the essence” of the original Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, but do not contain any actual whiskey.
The plaintiff’s lawyers provided images of both Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Fireball Cinnamon for comparison and stated that the labels of these two distinct products are virtually indistinguishable from each other.
The suit alleges that this misleads consumers into believing that the malt- or wine-based version of Fireball contains distilled spirits, which it does not.
Marquez says she purchased bottles of Fireball Cinnamon assuming that they contained whisky, which they do not.
One customer of the Fireball Cinnamon, Jay Estrada wrote on Facebook while posting a picture of the company’s bottle, “The facts are in? Fireball from HEB is fake! And there’s a lawsuit pending!”
The lawsuit further alleges that in addition to the titles of the products being too similar to tell apart, the fine-print text on Fireball Cinnamon bottles are similarly misleading, writing that the words “With Natural Whisky & Other Flavors” are a “clever turn of phrase” because “consumers who strain to read” the label will assume the phrase “Natural Whisky” is a separate item from “Other Flavors.”
“They will think the Product is a malt beverage with added (1) natural whisky and (2) other flavors,” the suit reads. “What the label means to say is that the Product contains ‘Natural Whisky Flavors & Other Flavors,’ but by not including the word ‘Flavors’ after ‘Natural Whisky,’ purchasers who look closely will expect the distilled spirit of whisky was added as a separate ingredient,” the class-action lawsuit says.
The suit also says that even if a distilled spirit like whisky was used to manufacture flavors, it loses its classification as a spirit when blended with other ingredients, which is why the product is allowed to be sold at places Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is not.
The suit cites local news stories that reinforce the idea that the new product has created confusion among consumers.
The lawsuit claims that Sazerac violated state consumer fraud statutes, breached express warranty and benefited from unjust enrichment and seeks to represent “more than 100” plaintiffs in addition to Marquez who purchased the item at “thousands of stores including grocery stores, big box stores, gas stations and convenience stores.”
A representative for Sazerac, the makers of both Fireball products, tells TODAY the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The lawsuit was filed by Spencer Sheehan and Associates, which is well-known for bringing lawsuits against big-wig food-and-beverage companies, including over 400 lawsuits like this one.
The filing states that the amount of damages for plaintiffs if the suit would exceed “$5 million, including any statutory and punitive damages.”