Trader Joe’s Settles For $1.3M In Underfilling Case

Settlement Follows A Two-Year Long Battle With Californian Federal Court

After a two-year battle with the California federal court, US grocer Trader Joe’s (owned by Aldi) has agreed to settle for USD 1.3 million a proposed class action from consumers claiming the company had been underfilling its 5 ounce albacore tuna cans.

The class action detailed in a report by Law360 is derived from a slew of suits filed against the company in 2016 in New York and California federal courts, which Atuna had previously reported on. In the initial suit filed in February 2016, plaintiff Amy Joseph had accused the grocer of fraud on the basis of not filling its branded tuna cans to the prescribed federal pressed weight standards.

Joseph’s suit was compounded by several other allegations filed in early 2016 in New York, California, and Illinois. The multiple suits were consolidated into a proposed class action in November 2016. Trader Joe’s was granted dismissal and the plaintiffs were granted leave, which they took in 2017.

Attempts to re-dismiss the case were taken up by Trader Joe’s in the later half of 2017, as the company argued that the complaint was formulated on an outdated standard: saying that the labels of its canned tuna products do not disclose any statements referring to the dated pressed weight standard (weight of the tuna meat without fluids) first introduced in 1957.

The retail grocer further asserted advocacy of its labelling program by stressing the display of net weight of 5 ounces and “drained weight” of 4 ounces in the center-front of its product label.

Defendants continued to stress the outmoded integrity of the pressed weight standard, in the consideration that no other country other than the US is still implementing the system. The grocer maintained that its new pressed weight standard is easier for consumers to visually understand and for manufacturers to apply.

By the end of October 2017, all New York claims filed against Trader Joe’s were dismissed, while most of the California cases remained open. Negotiations between the retail grocer and the proposed class concluded with plaintiffs declaring the USD 1.3 million settlement an “excellent result” covering a substantial amount of what was spent on the litigation.

The proposed class considers the payout, which amounts to USD 29 per claim, as “fair and adequate considering the price of a can of tuna”.