South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Beer Maker Cannot Be Sued for Fact that Beer Illegally Ends Up in Minors’ Possession
Description Court dismissed a class action suit brought against a beer maker that claimed public nuisance and unjust enrichment by advertising campaigns that encouraged underage drinking and earned revenue from such activities. No direct evidence of the claims were provided.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Advertising; Alcoholic Beverages; Teenagers; Public Nuisance; Unjust Enrichment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Goodwins’ daughter was killed in an accident involving a teenager who was driving under the influence of alcohol. They sued Anheuser-Bush in a class action for public nuisance and unjust enrichment for having an advertising campaign that influences people under the legal drinking age.
Decision

Motion for judgment on pleadings for defendant. The state of California closely regulates the sale of alcoholic beverages, but plaintiffs can still bring their actions for public nuisance and unjust enrichment. Those claims fail. Plaintiffs do not show that the drunk teenager who killed their daughter relied on advertisements for beer. Similarly, there is no evidence that defendant was enriched by illegally selling beer to the teenager who caused the accident. If it was sold to a minor illegally, it was not by defendant, since defendant does not directly sell the product.

Citation Goodwin v. Anheuser Busch Cos., 2005 WL 280330 (Super. Ct., L.A. Co., Calif.)

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