The parties to litigation alleging that Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. white chocolate products do not contain the requisite white chocolate ingredients to be labeled and promoted as such have agreed to settle the putative nationwide class action for $5.25 million and labeling changes. Miller v. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., No. 12-4936 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., motion filed August 20, 2014). Additional information about the case appears in Issues 465 and 479 of this Update. The settlement would also resolve claims to be alleged in a second lawsuit by an intervening named plaintiff regarding the use of “all natural” on product labels.
Under the agreement, class members who purchased the company’s Classic White Chips would be able to receive $1.50 per purchase, while those purchasing 72 other “all natural” products would receive $0.75 per purchase. The claims of those with proofs of purchase would not be capped, while claimants without proof of purchase would receive a maximum of $24.00 per household. Any funds remaining would be donated to four charitable organizations. Administrative expenses, costs, incentive payments, and attorney’s fees (at $1.66 million) would be paid from the settlement fund, subject to court approval. The parties have requested an October 2, 2014, hearing for preliminary approval of the proposed settlement and leave to file a third amended complaint.