Nick Caporella, the 82-year-old CEO of National Beverage Corp., which produces the cultishly beloved LaCroix sparkling water brand, has been accused of sexual misconduct by two former employees, the Wall Street Journal reports. In two separate lawsuits, the two complainants allege Caporella inappropriately touched them, on multiple occasions, while they were employed as co-pilots for the brand’s corporate jet. One lawsuit claims Caporella engaged in “repeated unjustified, unwarranted and uninvited grabbing, rubbing, and groping” during flights. Both Caporella and National Beverage deny the allegations.
Caporella, who apparently pilots his own company’s jet, hired both co-pilots through Broad River Aviation Inc. The incidents allegedly occurred between 2014 and 2016; while one lawsuit was settled in January of this year, the other is still pending.
According to Forbes, Caporella’s net worth is $4.2 billion, bolstered by the recent success of the LaCroix brand, which he acquired in 1996. (LaCroix obsession reached its cultural peak last year: Media types constantly debate the merits of certain flavors, its colorful logo has appeared on bathing suits, and the brand has inspired at least one novelty song.) Per the WSJ, Caporella currently owns 73.5 percent of all the beverage maker’s shares, whose price noticeably fell by 12 percent at the end of June.
In a 2016 look at the brand’s surprising resurgence — which made Caporella a billionaire in his 80s — Vox described him as an “eccentric, press-shy founder” “whose writing reads like it’s ripped from the discursive labels of Dr. Bronner’s soap.” In 2017, Caporella made headlines for an all-caps-studded press release that suggested short-sellers were responsible for the company’s flagging stock prices. “Are perpetrators stimulating self-serving movement by stating falsehoods, creating rumors and deliberately manipulating FIZZ value?” Caporella wrote at the time. “We think so!” He continued: “THE OBSCURE SILVER LINING IS A UNIQUELY-INDUCED OPPORTUNITY.”