Federal judge rejects Maker’s Mark false advertising suit
A California federal judge dismissed a lawsuit this week against Maker’s Mark distillery that alleged the bourbon manufacturer misled its customers by marketing and promoting its products as handmade.
U.S. District Judge John A. Houston rejected plaintiffs Safora Nowrouzi and Travis Williams’ attempt to sue the company for violating California law in terms of false advertising, unfair competition, negligent misrepresentation and intentional misrepresentation. The plaintiffs alleged they were misled by the Maker’s Mark’s label which touts its product as “handmade” despite its automated production process that uses little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement which is demonstrated on the Maker’s Mark website.
The plaintiffs allege this “handmade” statement convinced them to purchase the bourbon over cheaper products because they believed the Maker’s Mark bourbon “was of superior quality.”
The judge, however, dismissed the suit.
Maker’s Mark successfully argued that “handmade” could not mislead consumers as a matter of law because it is not a “specific and measurable claim.”
“This court finds that ‘handmade’ cannot reasonably be interpreted as meaning literally by hand nor that a reasonable consumer would understand the term to mean no equipment or automated process was used to manufacture the whisky,” Houston wrote. “Thus, this Court finds plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”