Class action says K-cup maker fails in 'fresh' and 'delicious' coffee claim

Kelly Holleran Jun. 29, 2011, 8:49am


A St. Clair County woman claims the manufacturer of K-cups for her Keurig coffee maker misled her into believing the cartridges contained coffee that could be fresh brewed. In actuality, the cups contained instant coffee, the woman alleges in her recently filed putative class action complaint.

Linda Suchanek is the named plaintiff in a suit filed June 28 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Sturm Foods and Treehouse Foods.

Suchanek is the mother-in-law of Edwardsville attorney Randy Gori, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf.

In the complaint, Suchanek claims she purchased Grove Square coffee cartridges manufactured by Sturm for use in Keurig coffee machines.

The Grove Square products can be found at major retail stores, such as Walmart and Big Lots, and promise to provide the consumer with a "fresh, hot, and delicious" cup of coffee. Its packaging states that its product is made from "the world's highest quality Arabica beans, roasted and ground to ensure peak flavor, then packaged to lock in optimum freshness," according to the complaint.

However, Suchanek claims Grove Square cartridges actually contain instant coffee -- not freshly brewed coffee as advertised.

"Instant coffee is not freshly brewed coffee but rather dehydrated soluble powder that can be mixed with water to yield a coffee-like beverage," the suit states.

Had Suchanek known that the coffee was instant instead of freshly brewed, she would not have purchased the product, the complaint says.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Suchanek said the products were "absolutely horrible" and tasted like hot water.

"If you shake the cup, they have hardly any coffee in them," she said.

She said she was telling her daughter and son-in-law about them, and that he said that it wasn't right and offered to file the lawsuit for her.

In addition to Sturm Foods, Suchanek names Treehouse as a defendant because Sturm Foods is a subsidiary to Treehouse.

In her complaint, Suchanek alleges the defendants violated the Illinois Unfair Practices Act and consumer protection statutes by misrepresenting the fact that they were selling instant coffee. In addition, she alleges unjust enrichment against the companies.

"By passing off its instant coffee as fresh brewed coffee, Defendant Strum has been able to charge a higher price for its product than it otherwise would have been able to charge for instant coffee," the suit states.

In her complaint, Suchanek wants the court to classify the complaint as a class action suit and seeks statutory and actual damages, plus attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just. She also seeks an order that the defendants refrain from making false statements in the future.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:11-cv-565.

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