In Hot Water: Anheuser-Busch under Attack for Watering Down Its Beer

March 1, 2013

The news about Anheuser-Busch this week is enough to strike fear in many a frat boy or beer connoisseur: the eminent St. Louis-based brewing company has been accused of watering down its beverage products, including the Budweiser, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, and Natural Ice brands.  See, e.g., 2013 WLNR 4946832.  As of this writing, five class-action lawsuits have been filed against the brewery, and it is predicted there may be more to come.  Plaintiffs in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas have filed complaints alleging Anheuser-Busch’s violation of various state and federal consumer protection statutes by purportedly overstating the alcohol content in its beers.  One complaint even implies the practice of diluting its beverages became more vigorous after Anheuser-Busch merged with the Belgian company InBev in 2008.  Each lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million as well as an order obligating the brewing company to undertake a corrective advertising campaign.

For its part, Anheuser-Busch vehemently denies any adulteration or mislabeling of its products.  It is noteworthy, too, that the various plaintiffs’ assertions are not based on any independent testing of the beers in question.  Rather, the complainants are basing their arguments, thus far, on statements of former employees of the brewing giant.

If you would like to view the pertinent Dockets, where you can access PDF copies of the complaints filed against Anheuser-Busch, simply run the following search in WestlawNext:

Query: PTN(anheuser-busch) & DA(aft 02/20/2013)

Content: Federal Dockets

Moreover, to be notified of any additional lawsuits filed against the brewing company—there is rumor of at least one more complaint likely to be filed in Colorado—consider setting up a Docket Alert.  This may be accomplished by going into the Tools area in WestlawNext and then selecting Alert Center.  Click on the link to create a new Docket Alert, and fill out the screens that follow to customize.  I suggest monitoring all U.S. District Court dockets and restricting your search to class-action filings only.  Choose your delivery options, including format and frequency, to suit your needs.