Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weeks v. Kellogg - Rice Krispies class action settlement

In 2009, the state of Oregon complained to Kellogg that they said Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies were fortified with antioxidants, and Kellogg changed the description of the boxes of the cereal—though the cereal is fortified with antioxidants. Almost immediately, several plaintiffs' lawyers filed lawsuits on the basis of Kellogg's announcement, and after several amended complaints, Kellogg's agreed to a nuisance settlement of $2.5 million. Class members can request $5 refunds for up to three boxes of cereal purchased between June 1, 2009 and March 1, 2010, an amount that will be reduced pro rata if the settlement money runs out, though one might expect that there will only be a few thousand claims. Though the class is nationwide, Kellogg is giving another $2.5 million (retail value, so it's really costing them half as much) in food to two local charities in Santa Monica and Atlanta. The class representatives will seek $5000 each.

How much are the attorneys asking for? I don't know: it's not in the notice or settlement agreement, but it comes out of the $2.5 million settlement fund. (The attorneys will announce on July 18; objections must be received by July 25—a Monday. This abbreviated and substandard notice is arguably a violation of Rule 23(h) and Ninth Circuit procedure in In re Mercury Securities Litig.. The notice is otherwise substandard, as there are several hoops one must jump through to object that are not listed in the notice.) Anything left over after the class is paid will go to the two local charities and a trial-lawyer group.

The case is Weeks v. Kellogg, Case No. CV 09-08102(MMM)(RZx) (C.D. Cal.).

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