Is Poland Spring water from an actual spring? The complaint for this class action alleges that the real Poland Spring in Maine ran dry nearly fifty years ago, that some of the water bottled under its name comes from a municipal tap water system, and that none of it can legally be called spring water.
The Nationwide Class for this action includes all persons or entities in the US who bought Poland Spring water for consumptive purposes after November 5, 2003. The complaint also proposes a New York Subclass, a Connecticut Subclass, and a Pennsylvania Subclass of class members who purchased their Poland Spring water in the respective states.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established specific labeling requirements that say that all products labeled as “spring water” must be (a) derived from an underground water supply that flows freely to the earth’s surface through a natural, non-man-made opening in rocks or soil, or (b) collected from a bore hole or well “tapping the underground formation feeding the spring.”
The complaint uses geological maps and extensive detail to claim that this is simply not true of any of the eight so-called “natural springs” from which Poland Springs water is bottled and that in fact the bottles contain not water from mountain springs but ordinary groundwater collected from wells in plains or valleys where there is a shallow water table.
For one thing, the complaint alleges that the company produces nearly one billion gallons of “spring water” each year, and that to meet that production, each of the “springs” would have to flow at a rate of 245 gallons per minute, “or more forcefully than a 2-inch diameter fire hose at 40 pounds per square inch” which would make it “more like a geyser than a spring”.
The complaint further alleges that the original Poland Spring ran dry, and that the “spring” the company now claims produces its water in that location is at the bottom of a lake. At its other sites, the complaint says, the company has built man-made “springs” via three methods: (a) causing well water to flow through pipes or tubes into wetlands, (b) inserting wells into the ground to tap the water table and force water to the surface, and (c) excavating pits in the ground that intercept the water table and form man-made pools.
None of these, the complaint says, meets the FDA definition of “spring” nor can water taken out of them be called “spring water.” Also, the complaint says, many wells are close to surface water in the form of swamps, bogs, streams, lakes, and ponds that will enter the wells if they are pumped at sufficient rates. This surface water does nothing to help it meet the FDA definition of “spring water”.
The complaint claims that the company is guilty of breach of contract and has violated state business and trade laws.