A controversy over water quality is bubbling to the surface, resulting in a class action lawsuit against Maine bottled water company Poland Spring.
The suit, filed in federal court in Connecticut this week, alleges that the Nestle-owned company is misleading consumers by labeling it “100% natural spring water.”
The complaint calls the company a “colossal fraud,” and alleges that the water is “ordinary groundwater,” not from real springs.
“If Poland Spring had been properly labeled as bottled water, well water, drinking water or purified water, people would have bought much less, and they would have paid less for it,” said Alexander Schmidt, a lawyer representing the eleven plaintiffs.
He said Poland Spring is using “phony, man-made” springs, but a spokesperson for parent-company Nestle Waters North America, said their water meets US FDA regulations defining spring water, and all state and federal standards.
“The claims made in this lawsuit are without merit and an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain,” said the company in a written statement.
Poland Spring settled a similar lawsuit in 2003, and admitted no wrongdoing. In this lawsuit, lawyers are seeking $5 million in damages, and requesting a jury trial.
The company is one of the largest employers in Maine, and has continued to expand operations in the state.
Grassroots groups, like the Community Water Justice, have been concerned about Poland Spring’s expansion and marketing for years.
“There’s a lot of people in rural communities that do take issue with how they promote and market the product,” said Nickie Sekera, co-founder of Community Water Justice.