Tentative deal reached in beer suit

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — The parent company of a Hawaii brewery agreed on a tentative settlement with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over allegations that the company’s packaging and advertising misleads customers.

Craft Brew Alliance Inc., which owns Kona Brewing Co., reported to investors last week that it expects to spend about $4.7 million to settle the suit, though the company’s general counsel, Marcus Reed, said the exact figure will depend on the number of people who file claims in the case.

A federal judge in California has set a June 13 hearing to consider preliminary approval of the class-action settlement between the plaintiffs and Portland-based Craft Brew Alliance. The judge ordered that motion be filed by May 23.

Assuming the court approves the settlement agreement, that will be followed by a notice period to then be followed by the claims period, Reed said.

The lawsuit, filed in 2017, accuses the company of using “false and deceptive packaging and advertising” to mislead customers into believing Kona Brewing Co. beer was brewed in Hawaii.

The complaint said the plaintiffs, who were California residents at the time of its filing, relied on representations like those when they bought Kona Brewing Co. beer and believed they were buying beer brewed in Hawaii. Had they known it was brewed in the Mainland, they wouldn’t have bought the beer “or would have paid significantly less for it,” the complaint states.

Lead attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case did not return a phone call Tuesday from West Hawaii Today.