Jessica Karmasek Sep. 1, 2015, 1:35pm


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - StarKist has settled a class action lawsuit over alleged short-weighted cans of tuna to the tune of $8 million in cash and $4 million in vouchers.

Attorneys representing the class -- the California class action law firm of Bursor & Fisher PA -- could receive a fee award of up to one-third of the total $12 million value of the settlement fund.

According to a website set up for purposes of the settlement, class counsel has not yet received any payment for their services, nor have they been reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses.

When they ask the court -- in this case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California -- to approve the settlement in the coming months, counsel also will make a motion for an award of attorneys’ fees. The court may award less than what counsel requests.

Counsel are expected to file their motion for fees and expenses by Oct. 30, which will be publicly available for viewing on the settlement website.

Objections to counsel’s requested fees and expenses are due Nov. 20.

The lawsuit, filed more than two years ago, claimed StarKist under-filled certain 5-ounce canned tuna products in violation of state and federal law.

StarKist, while it settled the action, continues to deny it under-filled its products.

However, the company chose to provide customers with a cash payment and/or vouchers for products rather than spend additional money on costly litigation.

Shoppers who purchased the 5-ounce canned tuna between 2009 and 2014 are eligible to submit a claim for a $25 cash payment or $50 in product vouchers.

Under the terms of the settlement, shoppers do not need a receipt or other proof of purchase to submit a claim.

But if too many people apply for the refunds, the amount of each claim may be subject to “pro rata dilution,” or a reduction.

A fairness hearing will be held Dec. 17 at the San Francisco federal court.

At that time, the court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate, and whether it will approve the settlement. The court also will consider counsel’s request for fees and expenses.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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