In an opinion yesterday, Judge Engelmayer dismissed a class action accusing Whole Foods of exaggerating the weights of certain pre-packaged foods, so as to overcharge customers.  The genesis of the suit was an analysis by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) finding that 89% of tested products had incorrect weights.

The lead plaintiff, Sean John, claimed to have bought cupcakes and cheese from Whole Foods, but, since he could only speculate that those particular purchases were weighed wrongly, Judge Engelmayer found he lacked standing:

Although John’s testimony can establish that he purchased cupcakes and cheeses from two Whole Foods stores, there is no competent, non-speculative, evidence that any cupcake or cheese item John bought weighed less than the weight used to price it. The DCA investigation, in the form of spot checks at certain stores, does not support the inference of systematic over-pricing. And John in discovery did not adduce competent evidence of a uniform practice by Whole Foods of falsely inflating the weight of its pre-packaged goods in general, or of cupcakes and cheese in particular.

John’s argument that there was systematic overpricing was as follows: because “Whole Foods utilizes uniform recipes and procedures for pre-packaged cupcakes and cheeses,” “a single instance of a short-weight cupcake or cheese item could be found to dictate that all food items of the same type, having been produced pursuant to the same specifications, must have been identically short-weight.” Judge Engelmayer found this argument “in tension with lived kitchen experience”:
Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer: “Short Weighting” Class Action Against Whole Foods Disproven by “Lived Kitchen Experience”

Yesterday, Judge Rakoff sanctioned an attorney for an objector to the $3 billion Petrobras securities litigation settlement (see our full coverage of the Petrobras litigation here).  Judge Rakoff had approved the settlement over the objections, after which the objectors filed an appeal.  According to the class plaintiff, the appeals were part of an “extortionist agenda” to extract a monetary settlement in exchange for dismissing their appeals.

Judge Rakoff warned against the rise of frivolous objections to class settlements:
Continue Reading Judge Rakoff Grants Sanctions for “Objector Extortion” in Proposed Class Action Settlement

In an opinion Friday, Judge Oetken refused to dismiss a putative class action brought by Applebee’s patrons who allege that the tabletop computer tablets at the Broadway and Times Square locations force customers to leave a minimum tip of either 15% or 18%, and thereby deceive customers into believing tipping is mandatory, in violation of New York’s consumer protection laws.

The defendants argued (among other things) that the social norm of leaving a tip was grounds to dismiss the case, but Judge Oetken disagreed:
Continue Reading Judge Oetken Refuses to Dismiss Complaint Alleging that Applebee’s Tabletop Tablets Force Patrons to Tip

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Caproni warned Christopher Bandas, an attorney who serially files class action objections, about his apparent practice of attempting to use local counsel as a shield against sanctions, though she ultimately declined to sanction Mr. Bandas:

Bandas’ failure to provide any legitimate support for [the class objection] would be enough to

This week, Judge Seibel dismissed a putative class action against the makers of Muscle Milk and other protein powder products.  The plaintiff alleged that the products were mislabeled under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as they contained unnecessary empty space (or “slack fill”) that represented up to 30% of the container’s volume.

Judge Seibel found that these allegations alone – without further factual support – were not sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss:
Continue Reading Judge Seibel Dismisses Class Action Alleging Too Much Empty Space in Muscle Milk Containers