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Lawsuits & Litigation

Market Basket Hit with Lawsuit Over Deceitful Coffee Can Labels

— February 5, 2021

Market Basket was recently named in a lawsuit over claims some of its coffee labels are deceitful and misleading.

For many Americans, brewing a cup of coffee in the morning is how they kickstart their days. But when is the last time you checked the label on your coffee can? How many servings does it claim to contain? Forty-eight? Seventy-two? Does the can really contain as many servings as it claims? Market Basket recently came under fire in a lawsuit over allegations that two of the company’s coffee cans contain “less than half the number of rounded tablespoons that had been advertised on their packages.” The suit is seeking class-action status and was filed in federal court on behalf of David Cohen, a resident of Weymouth.

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

According to the suit, Cohen “purchased the Tewksbury-based grocery store’s 11.5-ounce House Blend and 11.5-ounce House Blend Decaf coffee cans under the reasonable belief that they contained 79 and 76 servings, respectively, as indicated by small labels near the bottom of the cans.” However, “expert third-party testing revealed the actual number of servings in the House Blend and House Blend Decaf were 39 and 37, respectively, meaning that they contained 40 and 39 servings less than advertised,” according to the suit. It further states that customers “were being cheated out of 51% of the servings they paid for.”

Cohen claims he would not have purchased the coffee if he had “known the truth.” His complaint adds that the labels were “designed to – and does – deceive, mislead, and defraud customers.” It also notes “there are likely tens of thousands of other Market Basket customers who are similarly aggrieved.”

How did Market Basket respond to the allegations, though? Well, so far the company has pushed back against the allegations and said the lawsuit, not the coffee, lacks grounds. However, the company “did acknowledge changing the label.” In a statement, the company said:

“The label referenced in the lawsuit is no longer in our stores…We believe the lawsuit has no merit.”

This isn’t the first time a lawsuit has been filed against a company over allegedly misleading labels on coffee cans. In fact, last year a lawsuit against a “private manufacturer of coffee labels for Wal-Mart and other big chains resulted in a settlement of up to $20 million.” Other companies, like Maxwell House, Folgers, and Kroger, have also become entangled in similar lawsuits over recent years.

As part of the lawsuit, Cohen is seeking to recover “financial damages under Massachusetts consumer protection laws, even if it acknowledges that the damages suffered by each individual Class member likely will be relatively small due to the small cost of the coffee cans.


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