United States District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. has dismissed the lawsuit detailed on this page with prejudice, ruling that the plaintiff’s state law claims are preempted by federal law and that the man failed to show he suffered any harm.
In hisdismissal order,the judge found the plaintiff failed to allege that he incurred any actual damages from the inclusion of grains of paradise in Bacardi’s Bombay Sapphire Gin. Rather than charge that consumers were harmed by being deprived of the value of their bargain in buying the product, the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the order says, claimed only that proposed class members were injured by purchasing “an illegal product which is worthless.” Judge Scola elaborated that though a product may be considered worthless as the result of a defect, the plaintiff’s case failed to offer any explanation as to why, say, the plaintiff could not or did not drink the gin, or note that he complained about the liquor or asked for a refund at the time of purchase.
“[The plaintiff] does not allege that the resale value of the gin depreciated,” the dismissal order states. “Instead, he simply alleges that the gin is worthless.”
Moreover, the order states that the man did not allege that he suffered “any side effect” or “health issue” from the drink.
Lastly, while the plaintiff’s claims leaned on the fact that Florida law prohibits the adulteration of alcohol with grains of paradise, Judge Scola ruled that the “antiquated” state law “frustrates the purpose and objectives” of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which seeks to allow for the use of safe food additives and establishes that grains of paradise are generally regarded as safe.
In tossing the suit with prejudice, Judge Scola offered no leave for the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.
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Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. is among the defendants in a proposed class action that alleges its Bombay Sapphire-brand gin is made with grains of paradise, the use of which in alcohol is illegal in Florida.
Filed in Miami-Dade County circuit court, the case against Bacardi and Winn Dixie Liquors explains that one of the 10 hand-selected botanicals with which Bombay Sapphire gin is made is grains of paradise. The ingredient, a plant native to swampy habitats along Africa’s western coast, is known for its warming and digestive properties when consumed, according to the lawsuit, and is used worldwide for medicinal purposes. Specifically, the suit says grains of paradise is used “to treat impotence and to stimulate miscarriages when a pregnancy was unwanted.”
562.455 Adulterating liquor; penalty.—Whoever adulterates, for the purpose of sale, any liquor, used or intended for drink, with cocculus indicus, vitriol, grains of paradise, opium, alum, capsicum, copperas, laurel water, logwood, brazil wood, cochineal, sugar of lead, or any other substance which is poisonous or injurious to health, and whoever knowingly sells any liquor so adulterated, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s.775.083, or s. 775.084.
“As a result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff and other similarly situated persons have been damaged,” the suit claims, alleging that Winn-Dixie, for its part, “knowingly sells the Adulterated Liquor” in contravention of Florida law.