Judge Dismisses Blue Moon “Craft Beer” Lawsuit Against MillerCoors (Again)

Last year, a California man sued MillerCoors over its continued labeling of its Blue Moon brew as a “craft beer.” In October, a federal court threw out the case against the mega-brewer. A federal judge has now ended the argument once and for all, dismissing an amended complaint the plaintiff filed after the first case was tossed out.

The original complaint [PDF] alleged that MillerCoors was deceiving customers into paying more for Blue Moon by labeling it a craft beer and by distancing the brand from the MillerCoors name.

The plaintiff cited the non-binding Brewers Association standard for craft beer — fewer than 6 million barrels produced annually; a craft brewer must be the majority stakeholder; the beer is made using only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients — contending that Blue Moon is just another beer made by a huge beer company.

MillerCoors asked the court to dismiss the complaint, arguing that no reasonable consumer could have been misled by MillerCoors’ use of “craft beer” and “Artfully Crafted,” because — in spite of the Brewers Association’s definition — there is no widely accepted standard definition for “craft beer.”

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel agreed, finding that no regulation bars MillerCoors from placing Blue Moon Brewing Co. on its label instead of MillerCoors. He granted the company’s motion to dismiss, without prejudice.

That left the door open to the plaintiff to file an amended complaint, which he did in November 2015, citing three ads on the Blue Moon website and YouTube channel that he called misleading, Courthouse News notes.

MillerCoors again filed to dismiss based on the plaintiff’s failure to “allege an actionable” misrepresentation since “(1) a reasonable consumer would not be misled by MillerCoors’ advertising; (2) MillerCoors is not liable for third-party representations; and (3) MillerCoors’ alleged pricing of Blue Moon is not a representation.”

Curiel dismissed the case with prejudice — which means it’s permanently done and cannot be brought again — on June 16 [PDF], writing that he “agrees with defendant that the three advertisements … constitute non-actionable puffery.”

“Plaintiff fails to point to any ‘specific and measurable claim[s], capable of being proved false or of being reasonably interpreted as a statement of objective fact’ made in the advertisements,” Curiel writes.

He adds that MillerCoors isn’t liable when third-party distributor stock its products in retail stores, and that its pricing of Blue Moon beer does not constitute a misrepresentation.

“The court previously found that plaintiff had failed to point to any case ‘supporting the proposition that the price of a product can constitute a representation or statement about the product,'” Curiel wrote. “Plaintiff has again failed to do so here.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.