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Meet the Connecticut Attorneys in the Poland Spring Case Garnering National Attention

Poland Spring bottled water.

Poland Spring bottled water. Photo: Mandritoiu/Shutterstock.com

Four attorneys from West Hartford's Izard, Kindall & Raabe are taking on Poland Spring in a landmark lawsuit asserting that the company's claim its water is from a natural spring is false. The water, the attorneys argue, is ordinary groundwater.

Christopher BarrettRobert IzardMark Kindall and Craig Raabe say they've been bombarded with calls from the national media since the ruling came out, but have decided against speaking on the record.

The attorneys are the only Connecticut lawyers among counsel from three states representing lead plaintiff Mark Patane.

Another Connecticut lawyer, Jonathan Tropp of Day Pitney in Hartford, is suiting up as opposing counsel to represent the defense. He has teamed with Craig Ollenschleger and Jeffrey Garrod of New Jersey-based Orloff Lowenbach Stifelman & Siegel; and Thomas Mayhew of San Francisco-based Farella, Braun & Martel.

The plaintiff appeared to have lost when U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer of the District of Connecticut dismissed the suit in May 2018, but that same judge later revived it on March 28.

Meyer had dismissed the fraud claims suit, writing last year that federal law pre-empted any claims against Nestle Waters North America Inc., Poland Spring's parent company. Last week though, the judge allowed the plaintiffs to sue under state statutes, after they'd amended their complaint. He let the lawsuit stand against every state, except Vermont. That means the lawsuit is still on for the following northeastern states: Maine, where Poland Springs is based, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The lawsuit claims that "not one drop" of Poland Spring bottled water is from a spring. It seeks at least $5 million in damages for false advertising, deceptive labeling and breach of contract.

For its part, the company says its labeling is accurate and that its water is pure spring water.

On its website, the company wrote: "Nothing in the court's recent decision undermines our confidence in our overall legal position. We will continue to defend our Poland Spring brand vigorously against this meritless lawsuit."

Nestle went on to say that its water is 100 percent natural spring water, and cites an independent investigation that the company said proved Poland Spring's claims are correct.

Here's a look at the Connecticut players.

Day Pitney partner Tropp is part of the firm's complex commercial litigation practice, which handles patent, trademark, copyright, and trade-secret litigation. He is a registered patent attorney who has represented plaintiffs and defendants ranging from international corporations in nine-figure cases to closely held businesses. He has defended antitrust, insurance coverage and shareholder litigation matters, including class actions.

Barrett, according to the firm's website, has been an integral member of litigation teams responsible for the recovery of more than $150 million for their clients. Before joining Izard Kindall, he worked for Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, where his practice focused on prosecuting class actions on behalf of plaintiffs; and Mayer Brown, where he handled complex commercial litigation. Barrett received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law. For his work in the law school's law clinic, he was awarded the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award.

Izard, according to the firm's website, has more than 20 years' experience litigating complex commercial cases. He has substantial jury and nonjury trial experience, including a seven-month jury trial in federal district court. He is also experienced in various forms of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration. Izard has been lead or co-lead counsel in national class actions, including cases against AT&T, MetLife, Time Warner, Sprint and Prudential. He received his law degree from Emory University, where he was editor of the Emory Law Journal.

Kindall has represented clients in class action cases, including ERISA litigation against AOL Time Warner, Kodak and Cardinal Health, according to his firm's website. He has also worked on consumer fraud cases against Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and Neutrogena. Kindall was a lawyer at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., from 1988 to 1990, after which he joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an attorney-adviser. He received his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley Law School.

Raabe, a pilot, has broad commercial and trial experience that includes antitrust, government contracting, fraud, intellectual property and unfair trade practices. He has tried complex civil and criminal cases. Raabe is an honors graduate of Valparaiso University and the Western New England College of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the law review.

Also representing the plaintiffs in the Poland Spring suit are: Amanda Bonn, Olga Elkhunovich, Y. Gloria Park and Steven Sklaver of Susman Godfrey in Los Angeles; Bethany Caracuzzo, Jonathan Levine and Elizabeth Pritzker of Oakland-based Pritzker Levine; Steven Williams and V. Chai Oliver Prentice of San Francisco-based Joseph Saveri Law Firm; and New Jersey solo practitioner Alexander Schmidt.

 

Read More:

Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Claiming Poland Spring's Water Isn't From Spring; State Suits Coming