Subway struck a deal and settled one of the largest class-action lawsuits in United States history. On October 21, a federal judge in Milwaukee signed off on a preliminary resolution of several class-action lawsuits over allegations that Subway’s Footlong and Six-inch sandwiches measured less than advertised by the American fast food restaurant franchise.
In one of the biggest sandwich-related controversies in U.S. history, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman gave the Subway settlement his preliminary approval.
The final approval involving a class-action lawsuit may be one of the largest of its kind.
One of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys, Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr. of Zimmerman Law Offices PC in Chicago, stated that this latest settlement does not stop tens of millions of people who bought a Footlong or Six-inch Subway sandwich in the U.S. between January 1, 2003 and October 2, 2015 from mounting their own class-action or filing a lawsuit.
In 2012, after one Subway customer complained on social media that his Subway Footlong sandwich was not 12 inches long, a number of lawsuits followed in various state and federal courts. When the first lawsuits against Subway were filed, some plaintiff customers were seeking up to $5 million. The plaintiffs claimed Subway was fraudulent and used deceptive trade practices.
Eventually, the plaintiffs were all combined into one class-action lawsuit against Subway that landed before U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee. Judge Adelman signed an order preliminarily approving the settlement earlier this month.
The defendant in the lawsuit is Subway franchiser Doctor’s Associates Inc., which issued a news release about the settlement late Monday, noting that nothing in the settlement found Subway’s marketing was unlawful or improper.
Subway explained that the roll for their footlong or short sandwiches is made from the same weight of dough, but that natural inconsistency of kneading, rising, shaping, and baking left some of their sandwiches a little short.
The Wall Street Journal cites that Subway has agreed to put in place a number of quality-control measures to “help ensure that the bread sold to customers is either 6 or 12 inches long.”
For instance, Subway is requiring that monthly restaurant inspections “include a sampling of the baked bread to ensure it is at least 12 inches long.”
Attorney for Subway, Bethany Appleby, said the company “wants its customers to be happy and enjoy their subs.”
Though the size of this class-action lawsuit against Subway is gigantic, most class members will not receive any money. If the settlement gets final approval, nine named plaintiffs will be awarded $1,000.
In fact, according to court documents filed in federal court in Wisconsin, attorney’s expenses, costs, and fees, are capped at $525,000 and divided among several firms. The lead counsels in the case are DeNittis Osefchen, PC in Marlton, N.J., and Zimmerman Law Offices PC in Chicago.
As part of the settlement, nine customers who participated in the lawsuit could get up to $1,000, but unfortunately, the tens of millions of people who purchased Subway’s Footlong and Six-inch sandwiches probably won’t get any money. In fact, they may not even get a free Subway sandwich.
Instead, Subway has agreed to no longer train employees to have “a small tolerance in the size of a Footlong sandwich,” according to an article in USA Today.
However, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr. said, “If somebody wants to pursue a claim for money damages, they are free to do that.”
Currently there are nearly 27,000 Subway restaurants in the U.S., including 44,341 in eleven countries.
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