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Vitaminwater lawsuit over health claims to proceed as class action

WASHINGTONA lawsuit over misleading health claims on Vitaminwater drinks can move forward as a class-action lawsuit, a federal judge has ruled.

Attorneys representing the health-advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and consumers from several states have accused Coca-Cola Co. of using deceptive labeling on Vitaminwater beverages, including claims that they reduce risks of disease and boost the immune system.

The nonprofit also took issue that there is typically less than half a percent of juice in Vitaminwater, despite it coming in flavors like kiwi-strawberry, acai-blueberry-pomegranate, and dragonfruit.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy said in a ruling Thursday in New York that the lawsuit can proceed as a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs can seek injunctive relief, which would prevent Coca-Cola from making certain claims for the product. The judge said the parties cannot seek financial damages.

The ruling was published on the CSPI's website.

The CSPI first sued Coca-Cola in 2009 over Vitaminwater over health claims, including that its drinks reduce the risk of chronic disease, eye disease, boost immune function and support healthy joints.

In 2010, a judge denied Coca-Cola's attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed on technical grounds.

Last November, the CSPI sued Dr Pepper Snapple Groupover what it called misleading health claims on its 7UP with antioxidants drinks. The group charged that the sugary drinks do not contain real juice, and sodas can't be fortified with antioxidants.

The company announced plans to discontinue the line of drinks shortly after, but said at the time the decision had nothing to do with the lawsuit.

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