By Aaron Kesel
A group of concerned citizens has brought a 325-page class action lawsuit against Nestlé Waters North America, the company that owns Poland Spring, alleging that the Maine business has long deceived their customers by mislabeling common groundwater as “spring water,” Courthouse News reported.
The lawsuit was filed in a Connecticut federal court on Tuesday accusing Nestlé Waters North America Inc. of a “colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers.”
The civil suit was brought by 11 people who are seeking millions of dollars in damages seeking whether the sources of Poland Spring’s water meets the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition of a spring.
The suit alleges that the Poland Springs’ wells in Poland, Maine, Hollis, Fryeburg, Denmark, Dallas Plantation, Pierce Pond Township and Kingfield have never been scientifically proven to be connected to a spring and draw in surface water, which cannot legally be called spring water.
The suit further claims that Poland Springs has “politically compromised” state regulators and interweaving its interests with those of state government. “Rather than being collected from ‘pristine mountain or forest springs as the images on those labels depict, Poland Spring Water products all contain ordinary ground water that defendant collects from wells it drilled in saturated plains or valleys where the water table is within a few feet of the earth’s surface,’ the lawsuit claims.”
What’s more, the group claims that the real spring dried up fifty years ago adding that the source which Poland Spring gets their water from “sites near waste and garbage dumps.”
In a statement to the publication, a Nestlé Waters spokesperson stated that its water meets all relevant federal and state regulations on the classification and collection of spring water and that the suit is “an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain.”
“The claims made in the lawsuit are without merit,” said a spokesperson for Nestlé Waters. “Poland Spring is 100 percent spring water.”
This isn’t the first time Nestlé Waters has faced allegations that they were lying to customers selling fraudulent spring water. In 2003, the company settled a class action lawsuit alleging that Poland Spring water doesn’t come from a spring by agreeing to pay $10 million in discounts to consumers and charity contributions.
In 2007, Aquafina, a competitor to Poland Spring ran by Pepsi Co, admitted that its own bottled water was not purified water or spring water, but simply plain old tap water.
While another competitor, Dasani, states on its website that they maintain their bottled water comes from local water supplies and is then filtered.
“We don’t believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water,” Coca-Cola spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante said. “The label clearly states that it is purified water.”
A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to stop their misleading marketing practices for years. The group runs the “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign which “promotes, protects and ensures public funding for our public water systems and challenges the misleading marketing of the bottled-water industry,” according to its website stopcorporateabuse.org.