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StarKist Giving Customers Cash or Tuna as Part of Settlement

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 01, 2015 3:57 PM

StarKist is offering aggrieved customers the option of $25 in cash or $50 in tuna in order to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the tuna company of shorting the amount of fish in its cans.

The total payout will come to about $8 million, although StarKist has not admitted any fault.

Three Fish, Four Fish, We Need More Fish

Federal consumer laws require 5 ounce cans of tuna to contain between 2.84-ounces and 3.23-ounces of actual fish, depending on the type. Some StarKist customers thought their cans felt a little light, including the plaintiff, Patrick Hendricks. Hendricks had a few cans independently tested, and then filed a lawsuit when he heard they contained as much as 17.3 percent less tuna than the statutory minimum.

The suit was filed as a class action on behalf of any purchasers of 5-ounce cans of StarKist tuna. (Just in case you don't think StarKist's actions were fishy enough, they were represented in this case by Eckert Seamans Cherins & Mellott and were going up against the plaintiff's firm of Bursor & Fisher (emphases mine).)

Five Fish, Six Fish, Here's Your Fix Fish

Despite making no admissions to under-stuffing cans of tuna, StarKist will pay $8 million in cash and $4 million in vouchers to purchase StarKist tuna. Eligible members of the settlement are anyone who purchased the following StarKist products between February 19, 2009 and October 31, 2014:

  • 5 oz. can of Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • 5 oz. can of Chunk Light Tuna in Oil
  • 5 oz. can of Solid White Tuna in Water
  • 5 oz. can of Solid White Tuna in Oil

There's a website set up for StarKist customers to file a claim, and choose between presumably properly labeled tuna or cold, hard cash. The deadline to file a claim is November 20, 2015.

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