Keith Loria Oct. 20, 2010, 1:55pm
TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced on Tuesday that her office has reached a $775,000 settlement with Wal-Mart over its alleged sale of expired infant formula and non-prescription drugs.
Dow's office joined the Division of Consumer Affairs in lawsuits against Wal-Mart, Target and Drug Fair in September 2008, alleging that each retailer had violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act and Weights and Measures Act.
In August, Judge Thomas P. Olivieri found that the plaintiffs had proven four of the eight counts against Wal-Mart, including that it had sold or offered to sell infant formula and non-prescription drugs beyond their marked expiration dates and that items on sale scanned at incorrect prices.
A trial on the remaining four counts, which alleged various unconscionable business practices, was to begin on Monday, but a settlement was reached before it began.
Under terms of the settlement, the company is required to change its business practices to comply with state laws and regulations. Wal-Mart will pay $500,000 in civil penalties and will reimburse the state $200,000 for costs associated with the litigation. The final $75,000 will fund a consumer education initiative.
Wal-Mart must also maintain uniform policies to ensure that merchandise is not sold at a price in excess of the posted price at Wal-Mart Stores in New Jersey.
"This settlement puts the onus on Wal-Mart to check expiration dates when stocking its shelves, to periodically recheck stocked items, and then remove from sale any infant formula or non-prescription drugs that are past expiration," Dow said. "A responsible retailer should do no less and we expect full compliance at Wal-Mart's 54 New Jersey stores."
Target settled its suit in November, paying $375,000 and agreeing to revise its business practices. Drug Fair went out of business before the state's lawsuit could be resolved.