False Advertising Consumer Class Actions Related to Coffee Servings Continue with Suit Against Folgers
On November 30, 2020, plaintiffs filed the latest in a series of consumer class actions against coffee companies alleging false and deceptive advertising. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northeastern District of Illinois against The Folger Coffee Company (“Folgers”) and its parent, The J.M. Smucker Company, alleges that Folgers overstates the number of cups of coffee its ground coffee canisters will yield, causing economic injury to the class members.
The complaint asserts Folgers carried out a “classic and unlawful bait-and-switch scheme that causes unsuspecting consumers to spend more money for less than the advertised amount of coffee they believe they are purchasing,” violating state consumer protection laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Pointing to a 30.5-ounce canister of Folgers Classic Roast as an example, the complaint explains that while the product’s label says it yields 240 6-ounce servings of coffee, the product only has enough ground coffee to produce approximately 173 6-ounce servings when following the instructions on the label.
This lawsuit is the latest of several class actions based on similar facts filed in the last year against Folgers and other coffee companies. A class action against distributors of Great Value, Food Lion, Hannaford, Market Pantry, and other ground coffee brands settled in July 2020. Carlson Lynch, LLP, the firm representing consumers in the action discussed above, has represented plaintiffs in at least three similar class actions. Two of these have since been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice (a May 2020 suit against Folgers and an August 2020 suit against Walmart, both filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California). A third suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania against Kraft Heinz for its Maxwell House brand has been stayed until January 2021 to allow time to settle. Kraft Heinz faced a separate July 2020 class action in Florida state court that has since been transferred to federal court. Krogers also faces a suit in the Central District of California. We will continue to monitor any developments.