Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Martinelli’s Apple Juice Arsenic Contamination

Lawsuit alleges Martinelli’s inadequately advertised the apple juice recall and prevented many consumers from obtaining refunds by requiring they return the original bottles.

A New York woman has filed a class action lawsuit in the wake of a recent Martinelli’s apple juice recall, saying the company falsely advertised the juice as safe despite the presence of high levels of arsenic, and failed to properly protect consumers after learning about the contamination.

The complaint (PDF) was file by Barbara Seaman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on May 31, seeking certification of a nationwide class and a New York subclass for all consumers who purchased the product. The filing names S. Martinelli & Co. as the only defendant.

The lawsuit comes in the wake of a Martinelli apple juice recall issued on April 16, disclosing that bottles were shipped nationwide with high levels of toxic arsenic. Distributors were advised to immediately stop selling the juice and consumers who purchased the arsenic contaminated apple juice were advised to return the bottles to Martinelli’s.

Arsenic is a known human carcinogen which is measured according to organic and inorganic levels. Inorganic arsenic is toxic to humans at high levels or over long periods of time, and has been associated with long term health effects, including cancer, heart disease and death. Organic arsenic quickly passes through the body and is not harmful to humans.

The chemical was found in Martinelli’s apple juice after Maryland health officials tested samples that contained inorganic arsenic at 11.6 parts per billion (ppb). The amounts detected were 1.6 ppb higher than new U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) arsenic guidelines established in June 2023, which lowered the acceptable level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice form 23 ppb to 10 ppb.

Federal health officials lowered the acceptable amounts after toxic levels of arsenic and other heavy metals were found in fruit juices, carrots, and sweet potatoes distributed by various manufacturers in recent years. The discoveries raised concerns about the impact the arsenic-laden products may have on infants’ brains, as well as the long-term risk of cancer.

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Apple Juice Recall Lawsuit

Seaman’s complaint argues that the Martinelli apple juice recall was designed to exclude the majority of consumers from receiving a refund due to the requirement of having to return the affected bottles, which many consumers had thrown away. The lawsuit also alleges that Martinelli’s has made no effort to make the recall widely known.

According to the lawsuit, when the State of Maryland tested the bottles and discovered the high levels of arsenic, Martinelli’s failed to immediately respond. Seaman also claims that the affected bottles of apple juice failed to mention the presence of arsenic on the ingredients label, leading consumers to believe that the juices were safe. Failing to disclose the presence of arsenic constitutes false advertising, the lawsuit indicates.

“Defendant is using a marketing and advertising campaign that omits from the ingredients lists that the Product contains Arsenic,” Seaman states in the lawsuit. “Had Defendant not made the false, misleading, and deceptive representations and omissions regarding the contents of the Product, Plaintiff would not have been willing to purchase the Product.”

Seaman presents claims of violations of New York consumer protection laws, and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

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