Trader Joe's settles class action over 'natural' claims

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 2, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - Trader Joe's has agreed to a proposed $3.375 million settlement in a class action lawsuit over alleged misuse of "natural" claims.

The plaintiffs claimed Trader Joe's mislabeled products as "All Natural" or "100% Natural" that actually contained certain allegedly synthetic ingredients.

The order granting preliminary approval of the settlement was filed Feb. 6.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will make a final ruling on the settlement at a hearing on July 9 in San Francisco.

"The court finds that the agreement contains no obvious deficiencies, that the parties entered into the agreement in good faith...and that the agreement is sufficiently within the range of reasonableness such that the class notice of agreement should be disseminated to the settlement class," the order states.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, claimed products contained ascorbic acid, cocoa processed with alkali, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium citrate, xanthan gum and vegetable monoglycerides and diglycerides.

The specific products mentioned in the lawsuit included Joe-Joe's Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies, Joe-Joe's Chocolate Sandwich Creme Cookies, Trader Joe's Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls, Trader Joe's Buttermilk Biscuits, Trader Giotto's 100% Natural Fat Free Ricotta Cheese and Trader Joe's Fresh Pressed Apple Juice, according to the suit.

Class members of the class action settlement include anyone who purchased the specific Trader Joe's products between Oct. 24, 2007, and Feb. 6.

Class members are eligible to receive payment for up to 10 total purchases of the products--which range in prices from $2.70 to $3.99.

Class members with proof of purchase can receive compensation for more than 10 total purchases of the products.

Trader Joe's denied any wrongdoing and said its products were labeled in accordance with existing laws, but has agreed to the settlement to avoid further costs and inconvenience.

Attorneys are required to submit a motion for attorneys' fees at least 30 days before the opt-out date of June 16, according to court documents.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Michael D. Braun of Braun Law Group; McKean James Evans, Joseph N. Kravec Jr. and Wyatt A. Lison of Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec; and Janet Lindner Spielberg of the Law Office of Janet Lindner Spielberg.

Trader Joe's is being represented by Carla Jean Christofferson, Randall W. Edwards and Kate G. Ides of O'Melveny & Myers.

The case was assigned to District Judge William H. Orrick.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number: 3:11-cv-05188
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.

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