Lawsuit from B.C. man who thought Canada Dry ginger ale had medicinal properties settled for $200K
VANCOUVER -- A class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who said he was misled into believing Canada Dry ginger ale has medicinal properties has been settled for $200,000.
Victor Cardoso spent years buying the sugary beverage for his family based on the label's promise that Canada Dry is "Natural" and "Made from Real Ginger," according to his B.C. Supreme Court claim, which followed two similar false-advertising lawsuits filed in the U.S.
While ginger is popularly used as an herbal remedy for everything from nausea to menstrual cramps, the lawsuit alleges there's no chance of seeing those kinds of benefits from drinking Canada Dry.
"They do buy actual ginger, but then what they do is they boil it in ethanol, and that essentially destroys any nutritional or medicinal benefits," said Mark C. Canofari, one of the lawyers from Boughton Law Corporation who represented Cardoso's claim.
Canofari said the ginger is then turned into a concentrate, which is sparsely distributed into the beverage – to the degree that "one drop" is spread across 70 cans, he said.
"And a drop is .05 ml," Canofari added. "So that's how little, even of the concentrate, is actually in one drink."
Under the terms of the settlement, Canada Dry Mott's Inc. agreed to pay $200,000, plus $18,607 in disbursements, but "expressly denies liability and is not required to change its product labelling or advertising for products marketed in Canada," according to court documents.
The class-action lawsuits filed in the U.S. also resulted in settlements, and an agreement that the company would no longer claim Canada Dry to be "Made from Real Ginger."
While there was no evidence presented that Canada Dry Mott's Inc. ever made explicit claims about ginger ale having health benefits, Cardoso's lawsuit argued the labelling was still an attempt to "capitalize" on public perceptions about ginger.
CTV News has reached out to Canada Dry Mott's. Inc. for comment on the case. The company has denied making any attempt to mislead consumers.
Because of how many people have purchased Canada Dry ginger ale across Canada – at grocery stores, gas stations, vending machines and restaurants – Boughton Law Corporation said it wouldn't be practical to identify individual class members in the lawsuit and pay them what would amount to a paltry settlement.
Instead, the payout, minus legal fees and other costs, is being given to the B.C. Law Foundation.
"There's a provision in the Class Proceedings Act that modest awards like this (can be donated), rather than going through a claims administrator that costs a lot of money," said Canofari.
He described the foundation as "a non-profit organization that does all sorts of good work," from providing legal aid to funding law libraries.
Cardoso and another plaintiff from Alberta both received $1,500 honorariums for their work in the suit. Canofari described the outcome of the class-action as "reasonable," and said his client was satisfied with the results.