Anheuser-Busch has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that says the brewer’s “Ritas” line of malt beverages contains no distilled spirits or wine, despite packaging suggesting they are margaritas, mojitos and wine spritzers.
In a complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in September 2020, plaintiffs Megan Browning and Adam Kesselring accused the brewing company of false advertising, fraud, and breach of warranty by using terms like “foamy margarita” , “mojito”, “sangria” and “rosé”, in packaging, as well as images of cocktails and wine glasses.
Only a small disclaimer at the bottom of the box indicates that ritas are actually “malt beverages”.[s] with natural flavors and caramel color,” according to the complaint.
A judge issued preliminary approval of the settlement on July 19, and the claims site RitasSettlement.com launched in August. A final approval hearing is scheduled for December 2.
Anheuser-Busch declined to comment on the case but, in court filings, the company said its desire to resolve the dispute was not an admission of wrongdoing.
Find out below if you qualify for a payment from Anheuser-Busch, how much you could get, and when checks might start rolling out.
What is Anheuser-Busch accused of in this class action lawsuit?
In 2012, Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light Lime Ritas, a line of 8% alcohol-flavored malt beverages available in eight-ounce and 25-ounce cans.
But, according to the plaintiffs in Browning, et al., v. Anheuser-Busch, despite names like “Lime-a-Rita” and “Straw-ber-Rita,” and advertising touting its “classic margarita flavor,” the drinks contain no tequila, liquor, or wine, “just flavored beers that taste like margaritas, mojitos or wines.
“Reasonable consumers did not know, and had no reason to know, that the products were, and continue to be, falsely and misleadingly packaged,” the plaintiffs contend. “Nowhere on the front, sides, or top panel of the packaging… [Anheuser-Busch] declare that the products do not contain distilled liquor or wine”.
They maintain that they would not have bought the drinks if they had known what was in them, or paid as much as they did.
In addition to the cash payment, Anheuser-Busch, which also makes Budweiser and Michelob, has agreed to change its marketing to better inform consumers about the nature of the Ritas line. Packaging will now contain the phrase “malt beverage” and Ritas’ website will also reveal that the product line “contains no distilled spirits.”
Who is eligible for an Anheuser-Busch settlement payment?
Any adult over the age of 21 who purchased one or more of Ritas’ 112 different beverage options between January 1, 2018 and July 19, 2022 is eligible to file a claim. Proof of purchase is not required.
How much is Anheuser-Busch compensating ‘Rita’ drinkers?
The total cash amount has not been disclosed, but under the proposed settlement, class members may receive a cash payment based on the number and size of Ritas drinks they purchased between January 1, 2018 and July 19, 2022.
No receipt is required, although Class Members with Proof of Purchase may charge up to $21.25 per household. Those without proof of purchase are capped at $9.75.
The proposed breakdown of payments is as follows:
For eight-ounce cans, consumers can receive 30 cents for each four-pack purchased or 60 cents for each case (24-pack).
For 12-ounce bottles or cans, consumers can receive 15 cents per four-pack, 25 cents per six-pack, 45 cents per 12-pack and 85 cents per case.
For 16-ounce cans, Class Members will receive 20 cents for each pack of four or 30 cents for each pack of six.
For each 22-ounce bottle, class members can receive 10 cents.
For 25-ounce cans, Class Members can receive 10 cents for a single can or 15 cents for a pack of two.
Any other Ritas product not listed above is eligible for a 50 cent payout.
The deadline to file a valid claim is December 16, 2022. The deadline to be excluded from the settlement and retain the right to file a separate lawsuit is November 11, 2022.
To request a cash payment in the settlement, you can submit an online claim form. You can also print a physical form on the RitaSettlement.com website and mail it to:
Browning vs. Anheuser-Busch manager
post office box 5176
Portland, Oregon 97208-5176
When will I receive the payment?
A hearing to give final approval to the settlement is scheduled for December 2, 2022. After that, appeals can be filed and legal fees paid.
Under the proposed settlement, payments must be completed within six months of the December 2 hearing.
For more information on class action settlementsFind out if you’re eligible for money from Capital One’s $190 million settlement, T-Mobile’s $350 million data breach case, or Snapchat’s $35 million biometric privacy settlement.