Should we call this a shakedown attempt or not do you think?

  The latest from the land of lawsuits:

In a new federal lawsuit, public health advocates accuse Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association of engaging in a “pattern of deception to mislead and confuse the public” and waging an “aggressive campaign of disinformation about the health consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.”

We tend to think that this will come under the rubric of free speech. The Supreme Court has been very clear in insisting that commercial speech does indeed come under the First Amendment, even if with some constraints.

However, our real interest comes in the suit itself:

Plaintiff Praxis is a nonprofit corporation pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, with offices in Oakland, California, and Washington, DC. Plaintiff’s mission is to build healthier communities, and through the efforts of its staff, Plaintiff engages in significant advocacy relating to sugar-sweetened beverages and the health consequences of their frequent consumption. Plaintiff’s work is well recognized, including but not limited to the efforts of its Executive Director, Xavier Morales. As alleged in more detail below, Plaintiff has diverted significant resources to its advocacy concerning sugar-sweetened beverages. This diversion has prevented Plaintiff from allocating resources to other projects that advance healthier communities. Plaintiff could have avoided many of these expenditures if Defendants had not engaged in deception about the consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, consistent with its legal duty. 

One way of reading that is that the complaint is - Coke is saying something different to us, make them stop.

However, it is possible to be more cynical than that. For here is what the proposed solution is:

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for the conduct alleged in the complaint. Among other things, Plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction to require the Defendants to: publicly disclose their files on the potential health implications of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages; fund a public education campaign to educate consumers about the association between sugarsweetened beverage consumption and obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease;

Which the absurdly cynical among us might read as - Coke should give lots of money to Praxis.

Which leaves us with the real question we face. How cynical are we?