A peachy week for the owners of POM Wonderful

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 1, 2010
A Washington D.C. Superior Court judge has swallowed a POM Wonderful attorney's story that he did not know the juice maker had previously disclosed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's probe into its marketing tactics before he convinced the judge to stop the presses at the National Law Journal.
The FTC doesn't think POM is so wonderful.

POM Wonderful attorney Barry Coburn explained he did not work on a lawsuit in California in which POM Wonderful publicly revealed the FTC investigation, and he had been assured by POM Wonderful's in-house attorneys that the federal probe was not public and highly confidential.

That was enough for Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff, who demanded an explanation after approving a restraining order keeping the National Law Journal from reporting on the FTC probe based on a confidentiality argument and then learning that POM had already made it public. Judge Bartnoff, who lifted the restraining order this summer upon learning of the probe's prior disclosure in California, on Oct. 22 ruled Coburn and another POM lawyer, John Graubert, didn't act with “any impropriety at all.” The lawyers were cleared of sanctions they would have faced had Bartnoff decided either of them had violated federal laws pertaining to disclosures that must be made to judges.

Not only that but POM Wonderful, owned by Aspen residents Lynda and Stewart Resnick, also reached an out-of-court settlement with the law firm, Hogan Lovells, which sued it for $666,000 in fees that POM allegedly owed to lawyers who represented the juice maker during the FTC's investigation.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

And the good news for the owners of POM Wonderful didn't stop there.

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

The Resnicks received glowing press in the Wall Street Journal on Friday in an article called “The L.A. Art Boom” by Lauren Schuker that dished on “how pomegranate-juice magnates, billionaire museum builders and celebrity-packed boards are turning the city into a world-class art center.”

The article opened with how Tom Hanks, Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, David Geffen, Kim Kardashian and other stars attended the recent opening of the new $54 million Renzo Piano-designed Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In the meantime, the Resnicks — who also own Fiji Water and Teleflora — are feverishly disputing the FTC's complaint that POM Wonderful employs deceptive advertising to sell its juice. After a wave of media coverage that was critical of their marketing methods, the Resnicks found an ally in Wall Street Journal columnist L. Gordon Crovitz who last week suggested the FTC investigation may be going just a bit too far.

Guess you could say it's been a peachy week for the pomegranate pushers.

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