Starbucks drink names are misleading, alleges lawsuit

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Starbucks is facing a class-action lawsuit over the ingredients of its Refresher drinks.

Starbucks is facing a class-action lawsuit over the ingredients of its Refresher drinks.

Courtesy of Starbucks/Illustration by SFGATE

Starbucks is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that its Refresher drinks do not actually contain the fruits for which they’re named.

The lawsuit was initially filed in August 2022. Starbucks attempted to have it dismissed, arguing that the names of the drinks “accurately describe the flavors as opposed to the ingredients of the Products” and that any customer confusion over the drinks’ ingredients “would be dispelled by information available from Starbucks’s baristas.” However, a federal judge recently gave the lawsuit the go-ahead.

U.S. District Judge John Cronan dismissed only two of the 11 claims in the proposed class-action suit, allowing nine claims to proceed. Cronan wrote in his opinion, dated Sept. 16, that the plaintiffs had adequately argued that “a significant portion of the general consuming public could be misled by the names.”

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The lawsuit alleges that two “Mango Dragonfruit” Refreshers contain no mango, two “Pineapple Passionfruit” Refreshers contain no passionfruit and two “Strawberry Acai” Refreshers contain no acai. Instead of these fruits, the drinks predominantly feature the ingredients of water, grape juice concentrate and sugar, plaintiffs Joan Kominis, of New York, and Jason McAllister, of Fairfield, California, claim. 

They allege that had they been aware the drinks did not actually contain all the fruits in their names, they “would not have purchased the Products or would have paid significantly less for them,” reads the lawsuit. They are seeking at least $5 million in damages, according to Reuters.

“The allegations in the complaint are inaccurate and without merit,” Starbucks representative Alli Colzani told SFGATE in an emailed statement. “We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Robert Abiri, did not return SFGATE’s request for comment in time for publication. 

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