Justin Timberlake has been named as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit brought by a California man.
Kevin Branca says the pop star is helping Bai beverages — a company in which Justin plays a key role — deceive consumers who think they're drinking something all-natural when, in fact, the product is anything but.
The Blast reported on May 3 that the class-action suit just added JT — who is the first ever "Chief Flavor Officer" of Bai Brands, in which he invested in 2016 — to its complaint that's already going after Bai Brands, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Dr. Pepper president Larry Young and Bai founder Ben Weiss.
When Justin got involved in the company, he issued a statement explaining, "I've been a fan of Bai for a long time. This partnership was created from a shared desire to help people put better ingredients in their bodies without sacrificing taste."
But Bai's drinks, the lawsuit alleges, are actually chock-full of unnatural ingredients and artificial flavors despite labeling that claims they are all-natural and flavored naturally. That "false and misleading," labeling, the suit explains, is in violation of state and federal law.
Justin has now been accused of being a knowing participant in the alleged fraud because, according to the lawsuit, his "monetary assistance, creative inputs and marketing of Bai helped elevate the better-for-you and name-recognition of the brand," The Blast reports.
The lawsuit also claims that Justin "aided this scheme by agreeing to promote the Products and their ingredients on a nationally aired commercial advertisement during the 2017 Super Bowl, which reached millions of consumers, which was an essential tool to carry out the fraudulent sales and marketing of the Bai Products."
But wait — there's more: The suit also states that Bai and Justin knowingly entered into agreements "to commit fraud and other unlawful acts by agreeing to promote artificially flavored beverage products as if they were solely naturally flavored without synthetic chemical ingredients."
So what, exactly, are these artificial ingredients? An article on the Top Class Actions website explains, "According to the Bai fruit drinks class action, Bai beverages contain a synthetic chemical flavoring compound known as malic acid. Branca claims that malic acid mimics the fresh fruit flavors of blueberries, mangos and cherries but Bai drinks' front labels do not reflect the artificial flavoring.")
The lawsuit isn't just seeking money — though it has asked a judge to award restitution, actual damages, punitive damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees,Top Class Actions website states. It also wants a judge to issue an order "compelling Bai to stop violating FDA regulations, to relabel all existing products and to conduct a 'corrective advertising campaign' to inform consumers," the website explains.
Fortune reported in 2016 that Bai was expected to generate $300 million in revenue that year alone.