The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness (CEI) achieved a victory for class members in the Ma v. Harmless Harvest litigation as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied approval of a settlement that would have given class attorneys $575,000 and the class members nothing.
The court agreed with CEI that the settlement “is not fair, reasonable or adequate,” even citing the Subway Footlong case CEI previously won on the same merits.
CEI attorney Adam Schulman said, “The district court properly recognized that obligating the defendant to do what it was already doing benefits no one. When plaintiffs' attorneys seek a half-million dollar payday, they must first confer a reciprocal benefit upon the absent class members. The court also found something even worse, that to the detriment of the class, class counsel was 'less than frank' about the benefit to the class and showed a 'willingness to avoid scrutiny.”
The legal claim involved whether Harmless Harvest’s labels claiming that their products were “100% organic” and “raw” were accurate. The proposed settlement provided class members with worthless injunctive relief, trying to take credit for labeling changes that Harmless Harvest voluntarily made in 2015. At the same time, and in a clear signal of who the settlement was structured to benefit, the class attorneys and named representatives sought combined payments of $575,000.
CEI opposed the settlement on behalf of class member Anna St. John and achieved not only a denial of the settlement, but also denial of attorneys’ fees.
Read more about the case here.
ABOUT: The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness represents class members against unfair class action procedures and settlements. Originally founded by Ted Frank in 2009, the center has secured millions of dollars for consumers and shareholders and won landmark precedents that safeguard consumers, investors, and the courts.