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Suit to force Coke to restore its old taste fizzles

SEATTLE -- A federal judge who said he liked the taste of Pepsi Thursday tossed out a lawsuit filed to force the Coca-Cola Co. to change its much-ballyhooed new taste back to its original 99-year-old formula.

U.S. District Judge Walter McGovern, who chided lawyers on both sides, dismissed the consumer protection suit asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent Coca-Cola from putting the new-flavored Coke into its left-over supply of old Coke cans.

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He took note of a section in the plaintiff's brief that disparaged the 'New Coke' for tasting like Pepsi-Cola and remarked: 'I like the taste of Pepsi.'

McGovern, who paced behind the bench during the hearing, ruled that only the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Drug Administration had authority to file such an action. Federal suits against a corporation in another state also must involve at least a $10,000 loss on the part of the plaintiff, he said.

After the hearing, Gay Mullins, the president of Old Cola Drinkers of America, said the organization would file a class-action suit within 30 days to restore the old Coke flavor.

'Today's suit was just to change the labeling. It was not to change the new Coke back to old Coke,' he said.

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'Now we're going to regroup and do the class-action suit like we originally planned.'

The former medical researcher also announced he would run for a spot on the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola at the next shareholders election. Mullins said he owned two shares of stock in the Atlanta-based company.

Mullins, 57, created Old Cola Drinkers of America three weeks ago, saying he could not stand the new taste of Coke.

Attorneys for Coca-Coca indicated the company has spent $42 million on a media campaign to announce the flavor change.

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