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Stupid Tuna Settlement

— August 24, 2015

In what promises to be the most important settlement of the decade, StarKist Company agreed to settle a class action suit claiming that it violated state and federal law by under-filling some of its five-ounce tuna cans. Sorry, Charlie. You want a suit that makes sense, not this frivolous piece of crap. Read on to learn about a truly stupid tuna settlement.

Plaintiff Patrick Hendricks filed a class action suit against StarKist in February 2013. Mr. Hendricks cited a federal law that mandates five-ounce cans of tuna contain an average of 2.84 to 3.23 ounces of actual tuna. One presumes the balance of the five ounces is liquid. Mr. Hendricks claims that the five-ounce cans of StarKist tuna he purchased only contained an average of 2.81 to 3.11 ounces. Further, Mr. Hendricks insists he would never have bought StarKist tuna if he had been aware that the cans were under-filled.

Charliethetuna_0Because lawd knows that the missing 0.03 to 0.12 ounces of tuna just ruined his lunch.

Seriously!? We have cases of babies being born with birth defects that may have been caused by prescription drugs and cases of airbags going off like anti-personnel mines and we’re taking up time on a case involving an eighth of an ounce of tuna? Honestly, Mr. Hendricks is lucky I’m not the judge. Frankly, so is his attorney.

My questions to the plaintiff’s attorney would include, “How did your client reach the conclusion that his tuna can was short 0.03 ounces of tuna? Did he measure each individual can’s contents to the nearest hundredth of an ounce? If so, what scale is he using and when was the last time it was calibrated to be that accurate? Could it possibly be that, in draining the tuna your client may have inadvertently lost 0.03 ounces of tuna? Could it possibly have been stuck to the side of the can?”

My inner dialog would be quite different. “How much free time does this man have and can I get in on that gig? Who actually does something like this? What horrible act did I commit that my karma landed this case in my courtroom?”

Rather than deal with the expense of continued litigation, StarKist is settling the suit. This is not an admission of wrongdoing on StarKist’s part. In my opinion, this is an abuse of the legal system, an abuse that is costing StarKist $8M in cash and $4M in product vouchers.

That amounts to individual payments of $25 in cash OR $50 in product vouchers good for any StarKist tuna product. The amount may be reduced on a pro rata basis depending on the number of claims filed. I’d probably count on it being reduced as the settlement terms set the qualification bar so low Charlie couldn’t swim under it without getting sand burns.

No proof of purchase is required to get in on this landmark settlement. Class members need only submit a claim form stating the specific StarKist product(s) they bought and that they bought them between February 19, 2009 and October 31, 2014. As for the allowable products, read on.

Claimants must have purchased either:

  • 5 oz. Chunk Light in Water
  • 5 oz. Chunk Light in Oil
  • 5 oz. Solid White in Water
  • 5 oz. Solid White in Oil

However, purchases of StarKist five-ounce Chunk White in Water is excluded from the settlement. The first person to ask my why gets Contempt of Court in my imaginary courtroom.

Honestly, I get it. The law states that the extra 0.03 ounces of tuna make a huge difference; if we excuse one such violation, we must excuse them all, ad infinitum. My favorite, of course, is: “It’s the principle that counts!”

If we had absolutely nothing better to litigate, no other pressing matters, I might actually cheer on such cases. However, we’re not there. We have bigger fish to fry (Sorry, Charlie!) than whether a tuna can is missing less than a quarter teaspoon of tuna.


StarKist Tuna Class Action Settlement

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