Lawsuit claims Poland Spring a 'colossal fraud,' selling groundwater

Andrew Cummings
August 19, 2017

A class action lawsuit filed against Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. "Poland Spring is 100% spring water".

Eleven bottled water drinkers accused Poland Spring of a "colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers". The suit, which includes claims for breach of contract and fraud, also seeks unspecified damages for violations of state laws including New Jersey, New York and MA.

A lawsuit was filed in a CT federal court earlier in the week that alleges Poland Spring water is not from an actual spring.

Nestle in North America distributes or bottles 15 different water brands including Deer Park, Arrowhead, Montclair and Ice Mountain, shows a fact sheet for the company on its official website.

The class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in CT claims that parent company Nestle Waters North America is bottling common groundwater that doesn't meet the federal definition of spring water.

It alleges that the water in the bottled labeled as Poland Spring water is not collected from any pristine forest or mountain springs as images on the labels would imply. They say they would not have paid a premium for the water had they known it did not actually come from eight purported natural springs in Maine.

The lawsuit comes as the Stamford, Connecticut-based company embarks on an expansion in ME amid rising demand for bottled water.

The case is not a first: Nestlé Waters, which owns Poland Spring, was sued 14 years ago on similar claims and another Nestlé Water brand was sued in a similar case in IL in 2012.

None of the eight "natural springs" Nestle purportedly uses qualifies as a genuine spring under FDA rules, the suit further claims.

The claims are without merit, a Nestle spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. It meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations defining spring water, all state regulations governing spring classification for standards of identity, as well as all federal and state regulations governing spring water collection, good manufacturing practices, product quality and labeling.

This is not the first time Poland Spring faced legal action regarding its quality of water.

Even the historic Poland Spring site in western ME, which displays a stream of mineral water shielded behind glass, is no longer natural but instead generated by a machine that pumps it out of the ground, according to the complaint.

Nestle did not admit fault, but agreed to pay $10 million in charity discounts and donations over the next five years. It also sells purified drinking water brand Nestle Pure Life.

"Unknown to the general public, one or more wells at each of defendant's six largest volume groundwater collection sites in ME - which in recent years have collectively supplied up to 99 percent of the water in Poland Spring Water products - are near a present or former human waste dump, refuse pit, landfill, ash pile, salt mound, farm where pesticides were previously used, fish hatchery or toxic petroleum dump site", the complaint states.

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