(WXIN) – Fans of A&W Root Beer and Cream Soda are eligible for some cash after a judge granted preliminary approval of a settlement over what plaintiffs called misleading claims regarding the drinks.
The settlement involves the “Made with Aged Vanilla” claim printed on some of the company’s products, including 12 oz. cans, 20 oz. plastic bottles and two-liter bottles.
Three plaintiffs argued the beverages didn’t contain aged vanilla and were instead flavored with ethyl vanillin, a “cheap and inferior substitute for real vanilla,” according to the lawsuit.
The approval of the settlement comes years after plaintiffs initially filed the suit.
The lawsuit noted that a survey of 411 consumers in March 2020 found 89% of them believed, based on the “Made with Aged Vanilla” labeling, that the A&W products were vanilla flavored. The survey showed that most respondents took the statement to mean that the vanilla flavoring came “from a vanilla plant, such as a vanilla extract, which is made from vanilla beans from the vanilla plant.”
Tests from an independent laboratory, however, revealed that “the predominant, if not exclusive, source of the vanilla flavor derives from an artificial, synthetic ingredient – ethyl vanillin.” Plaintiffs argued that, if they’d known the true source of A&W’s flavoring, they would “not have purchased the product at a premium price.”
Keurig Dr Pepper, which owns A&W, agreed to a $15 million class action settlement. Anyone who bought A&W Root Beer or Cream Soda between Feb. 7, 2016, and June 2, 2023, is eligible. The settlement includes the following products:
- A&W Root Beer (regular)
- Diet A&W Root Beer
- A&W Root Beer Zero Sugar
- A&W Cream Soda (regular)
- Diet A&W Cream Soda
- A&W Cream Soda Zero Sugar
The company admitted no liability. It settled the case to avoid further litigation and expenses associated with the lawsuit, according to ClassAction.org.
Consumers don’t need a documented proof of purchase to file a claim, although those who do have a proof of purchase are eligible for a larger payout.
According to ClassAction.org, those without a proof of purchase are eligible for a payment of $5.50, with the amount being adjusted based on the number of valid claims. Consumers who submit evidence of their purchase can get up to $25.
A website for filing claims has been set up, although it’s not live as of this publication. Final approval of the settlement is expected in September 2023.