Supreme Court Refuses To Hear POM Wonderful’s Appeal In False Advertising Case

Image courtesy of gabster_ro

After nearly six years of legal wrangling over allegations of false advertising, the makers of POM Wonderful pomegranate beverages ran into a dead end this morning when the nation’s highest court refused to hear the company’s appeal.

The dispute between POM and the Federal Trade Commission goes back to 2010, when the FTC accused the company of making unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its products. At the time, the company’s marketing touted that medical research had shown that its products fought atherosclerosis, prostate cancer and other specific diseases.

In May 2012, an administrative law judge ruled that 19 POM ads were deceptive, but then in Jan. 2013, the FTC decided that a total of 36 ads were problematic, and ordered the company to stop making any kind of health-related claims without independent peer-reviewed studies to back those claims up.

Two years ago, POM appealed this ruling, arguing that the FTC overstepped its authority and that the requirement of having to undertake bona fide scientific studies (as opposed to just making things up) was overly burdensome.

And let’s not forget John Oliver’s attempt to re-label POM as containing rat urine and real pomeranians (it doesn’t), and the company’s thinly veiled response that Oliver should shove a case of their drink where the sun don’t shine.

Things finally seemed to come to a close in Jan. 2015, when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately sided with the FTC, writing that “Many of those ads mischaracterized the scientific evidence concerning the health benefits of POM’s products with regard to those diseases.”

In a statement, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez says she is pleased to finally have this dispute resolved.

“The outcome of this case makes clear that companies like POM making serious health claims about food and nutritional supplement products must have rigorous scientific evidence to back them up,” says Ramirez. “Consumers deserve no less.”