Lawsuit against Walmart claims nothing crafty about its ‘craft’ beers

A Cincinnati-area man has filed a lawsuit against Walmart over what he says is the retail giant’s “fraudulent, unlawful, deceptive and unfair” marketing of craft beers that aren’t really craft beers.

Walmart sells craft beers with names such as “Cat’s Away IPA” and “‘Round Midnight Belgian White” to residents in Ohio and 44 other states, presenting the brews as craft beers “when in actuality, nothing about (Walmart) is ‘small, independent and traditional’ to qualify it as an American craft brewer” based on the definition put forth by the Brewers Association, the lawsuit says.

Ragan Dickens, director of national media relations for Walmart’s corporate communications office, replied to an inquiry from this news outlet with the following statement: “We have not yet been served, but we take these claims seriously and will respond appropriately with the court.”

The lawsuit notes that craft beer typically costs $2 or $3 more per six-pack than “macro-brewed or mass-produced beer.” But plaintiff Matthew Adam suggests in the lawsuit that the beers sold as craft beverages by Walmart are brewed by Genesee Brewing in Rochester, N.Y.

“Defendant’s craft beer has never been a ‘craft beer,’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery,” the lawsuit alleges. “Rather, it’s a wholesale fiction created by the defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the craft beer at a higher, inflated price.”

Adam asks the court to declare the lawsuit a class-action that would represent all Ohio residents that purchased craft beer at Walmart.

The suit, filed by Cincinnati attorneys Brian Giles and Bryce Lenox, seeks punitive damages, a declaration that Walmart violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, an injunction barring Walmart from marketing its beers as craft beers and attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit is pending in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

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