A &W Concentrate Company and Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc. have agreed to pay $15 million to settle a class action that alleged the companies deceptively advertised A&W root beer and cream sodas as “Made With Aged Vanilla” since the products’ vanilla taste came from artificial flavoring.
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According to court documents, the deal will provide eligible consumers with “close to a full refund” of the money they spent on the allegedly falsely advertised beverages.
Read on to learn more about who can file a claim for compensation, which A&W products are covered by the settlement, how to claim your benefits and more.
Who’s covered by the settlement?
The settlement, which was preliminarily approved by U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan on June 5, 2023, covers anyone in the United States who purchased one or more A&W root beer or cream soda products labeled as “Made With Aged Vanilla” for personal or household use and not for resale at any time between February 7, 2016 and June 2, 2023.
How do I file a claim?
Consumers covered by the settlement will be able to file claims for compensation on the official settlement website—RootBeerAndCreamSodaSettlement.com—when it goes live.
ClassAction.org will update this page when the official settlement website is launched and claims can be filed.
How much can I get from the settlement?
According to settlement documents, consumers who submit a valid claim with proof of purchase will be awarded a minimum of $5.50 and up to a maximum of $25. Those who submit documentation can receive an additional $0.50 per unit purchased for up to 39 units. A unit refers to a single quantity of the product, such as “one 12-pack, one 24-pack, one 2-liter bottle, one 20-ounce bottle, etc.,” the settlement agreement specifies.
Those who file a claim without proof of purchase will get $5.50, settlement documents state. Notably, payment amounts may be proportionately reduced if needed so as not to exceed the settlement amount, according to court documents.
Which A&W products are covered by the settlement?
The settlement includes any A&W root beer or cream soda beverage sold between February 7, 2016 and June 2, 2023 that was labeled with the “Made with Aged Vanilla” statement.
A complete list of the A&W products covered by the deal can be found here.
When will I receive my payment?
Money will be distributed to eligible class members after the deal receives final approval from the court and any appeals are resolved. Keep in mind, the resolution of an appeal can add weeks or months to the overall settlement process.
A final approval hearing is scheduled to take place on September 18, 2023.
How did we get here?
In February 2019, a proposed class action out of New York challenged A&W and Keurig Dr. Pepper’s representation of their root beers and cream sodas as “Made With Aged Vanilla,” claiming that the statement would mislead consumers into believing the products are flavored with real vanilla extract. In reality, the lawsuit alleged, the beverages are made with a chemical flavor compound manufactured to simulate the taste of vanilla.
According to an amended complaint filed on April 10, 2020, scientific testing by Alliance Technologies revealed that the “predominant, if not exclusive,” source of the products’ vanilla taste is ethyl vanillin, a synthetic compound used as a “cheap, inferior” substitute for the real ingredient.
Another consumer filed a proposed class action ten days later in California against A&W and Keurig Dr. Pepper over the same allegations and was eventually added as a named party in the New York case.
As detailed in the plaintiffs’ unopposed motion for preliminary approval submitted to the court on June 2, the parties reached an initial agreement on February 1, 2023 after several mediation sessions and follow-up discussions.
Per the settlement agreement, A&W and Keurig Dr. Pepper deny the plaintiffs’ allegations and have admitted no liability. Rather, the defendants have agreed to resolve the matter “to avoid further expense, inconvenience, and interference with ongoing business operations, and to dispose of burdensome litigation.”
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