Never underestimate what could be the subject of a false advertising class action lawsuit. Take, for example, a case recently settled by the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s, LLC.
On Valentine’s day in 2013, plaintiff Heather Starks filed a lawsuit against the sandwich-maker, alleging that she purchased sandwiches advertised online and in-store to contain alfalfa sprouts. Ms. Starks claims that these sandwiches did not contain any sprouts.
Rather than, say, asking that the missing sprouts be added to her sandwich, Ms. Starks proceeded to file a national class action lawsuit alleging claims for:
- interference with contract;
- intentional misrepresentation;
- negligent misrepresentation;
- violation of California’s False Advertising Law;
- violation of the UCL;
- violation of the CLRA; and
- violation of the federal Lanham Act
Based on a review of the docket, it appears that Jimmy John’s cut off the bleeding early, settling the case in July 2014, before any significant briefing occurred. The total damage for the AWOL sprouts? An award of $385,000 for attorneys’ fees and administrative expenses, $5,000 for Starks to compensate her for the sprout-less sandwich, and vouchers in the amount of $1.40 for each customer claiming injury via lack of sprouts (up to a cap of $725,000).
Unsurprisingly, Jimmy John’s has also vowed never again to advertise that its sandwiches have sprouts when they do not. Notice of settlement.