Remember the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream settlement we reported on at the end of August? By the time Top Class Actions discovered the settlement, readers only had two days to file a claim. Some readers were understandably disappointed by the short notice they were given – and they weren’t alone. Two consumers objected to the $5 million Ben & Jerry’s class action lawsuit settlement on several grounds, including that poor notice was given to Class Members. The Court denied approval of the Ben & Jerry’s settlement on September 12, 2012, and a new federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the company for allegedly mislabeling its ice cream as “All Natural.”
The new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream class action lawsuit, filed by Plaintiff Colleen Tobin, is also seeking $5 million in damages from Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s for a proposed Class of all persons who purchased “All Natural Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream” since September 14, 2006.
Tobin cites an August 2010 Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) report that stated: “At least 48 out of 53 flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ‘All Natural’ ice cream and frozen yogurt contain alkalized cocoa, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, or other ingredients that either don’t exist in nature or that have been chemically modified. Calling products with unnatural ingredients ‘natural’ is a false and misleading use of the term,” the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream class action lawsuit states.
Tobin says she was unaware that Ben & Jerry’s was not “All Natural Ice Cream” until she learned about the proposed class action lawsuit settlement in Astiana v. Ben & Jerry’s. Tobin’s lawyers objected to the Astiana settlement on the grounds of poor notice, a complicated claims procedure, an unfair proposed charitable donation to the Unilever Foundation, and on inadequacy grounds.
“In Astiana v. Ben & Jerry’s, Astiana’s Counsel and Defendant worked together in an attempt to push through a collusive class action settlement that sought to limit consumers damages to $2 to $20 on a claims-made basis, coupled with a non-aggressive notice campaign (including not notifying entities like topclassactions.com), such that the total claims were less than $100,000,” Tobin’s lawyers explain in the class action lawsuit document.
They further accuse Astiana’s lawyers of “colluding” with Unilever to place over $7 million of the class action lawsuit settlement in Unilever’s own charity. “For this collusive deal, Defendants had agreed to pay Astiana’s lawyers $1.25 million,” according to the complaint.
Based on these objections, Tobin’s lawyers were able to convince the Court to dismiss the Astiana v. Ben & Jerry’s class action lawsuit settlement, and hopefully secure a new settlement that provides more time for Class Members to file a claim and receive fair compensation.
Tobin is seeking over $5 million in restitution for the proposed Class from Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s for violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, misleading labeling, fraudulent business practice, and more.
The new case is Colleen Tobin v. Conopco, Inc. d/b/a Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Case No. 12-cv-5812, New Jersey District Court. The Plaintiffs are represented by Christopher V. Langone of The Langone Law Firm.
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