The parties litigating whether Welch Foods, Inc. falsely labeled its “100% Juice White Grape Pomegranate flavored 3 juice blend” beverage have filed a stipulation of settlement in a California federal court. Burcham v. Welch Foods, Inc., Nos. 09-05946 and 10-01427 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., filed February 7, 2011). Under the agreement, a nationwide class of consumers would release their claims in return for refunds and coupons for replacement products, depending on whether they can prove that they purchased the product. The company would place coupons for free juice products in Sunday newspapers throughout the United States at a total value of $30 million.
While Welch’s continues to maintain that the labeling claims are preempted by federal law and that the company has complied in all respects with federal law, it also claims that it lost money selling the white grape pomegranate juice. Acknowledging the difficulties in locating class members, Welch’s has also agreed to make product donations of not less than $350,000 to charitable organizations of its choosing. According to the stipulation, class counsel agreed to seek a fee and expense award of less than $1.25 million, and Welch’s reserved the right to challenge that application to the extent that it exceeds $450,000. The lead plaintiff will be awarded $2,500 if the settlement is approved.