Indiana's Oliver Winery sues Ball Metal Beverage Container over cans, claiming foul odor with cider

Oliver blames defective can for smelly product

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - An Indiana winery has filed a lawsuit, claiming it was forced to recall some of its wine because a design flaw in the containers caused its beverage to stink.

The Oliver Wine Company of Bloomington filed suit in Monroe County Circuit Court, saying it ordered 1.3 million beverage cans from Ball Metal Beverage Container that caused its wine to go bad while still sealed in the aluminum container.

The lawsuit centers on the launch of Beanblossom Cider in 500-milliliter aluminum cans in 2011. 

Oliver Winery claims in its lawsuit that sales of its new product were getting 'outstanding reviews from consumers' until it started buying aluminum containers from Ball.

Ball Metal Container operates out of Monticello, Ind., and its parent company, Ball Corporation, is based in Colorado.   

Spokesman Scott McCarty wrote in an email that, "Ball does not comment on pending legal matters."  

Ball filed last week to move the lawsuit to Indianapolis federal court since product liability cases typically involve federal laws and jurisdiction.

Oliver Winery wrote in its lawsuit that it wanted to expand its five-flavor line of Beanblossom Cider by contracting with Ball for 1.3 million aluminum cans.

During the design phase of that new contract, Oliver Winery claims that Ball requested on Nov. 16, 2011, that the winery "send at least one pint of each of your products to our lab for analysis. This is done to test the compatibility of your product with aluminum cans, and to determine the correct amount of internal coating we need to use when producing your cans."

The winery claims in its lawsuit that Ball then confirmed that the Beanblossom Cider was compatible for the 250-milliliter cans and linings, falling within the performance specifications developed by Ball.

Oliver Winery then issued a purchase order dated Jan. 20, 2012, a copy of which was included in the lawsuit with all prices removed from the document. It shows 263,700 aluminum cans were ordered for each of its five flavors, including its original hard cider, peach, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.

Shortly after the Beanblossom Cider hit the market in Ball's aluminum containers, Oliver Winery's lawsuit claims it started getting complaints from its consumers about a "foul odor" when the aluminum cans were opened.

"The odor was caused by a chemical reaction from copper pitting in the cans, which produced  hydrogen sulfide in the Beanblossom Cider," attorneys for the winery wrote in the  lawsuit.

The winery's lawsuit states that, at first, Ball admitted that the wine was within the acceptable copper content that was originally tested. However, the winery claims that Ball later changed its position to blame the winery for making wine containing copper above the limits in the design specifications.

Oliver Winery started a voluntary recall of the containers of its wine made by Ball as a result of the defect, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks a court to award money to the winery for negligence and for breach of the written and verbal warranties that the product would work as designed. The lawsuit also claims Ball breached its contract and produced a defective product.

"Oliver Winery has suffered and will continue to suffer damages as a result of Ball's breaches of its express warranties," attorneys for the winery wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also spells out that 500-milliiliter aluminum bottles made by a different manufacturer continue to perform just fine for its Beanblossom brand.

"We are pleased that our customers can still purchase this product in 500-milliliter aluminum bottles, which are not involved with this lawsuit and were not affected by the problem," Jessika Hane, human resources director at Oliver Winery, wrote in an email to the Call 6 Investigators.

The winery is asking for a jury trial, claiming it had testing performed on its production tanks and the cans in question and found the wine had the same levels of copper that were originally provided to Ball before the cans were purchased.

Oliver Winery advertises that it's been in business for more than 40 years, producing more than 40 types of "quality wines and related products."

The winery declined to comment further on its lawsuit.

Print this article Back to Top