The parties to putative nationwide class actions alleging that Unilever U.S., Inc. falsely advertised that its margarine spreads, including Country Crock® and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter®, were good for cardiovascular health are seeking final court approval of a non-monetary settlement that will require the company to remove the trans fat from its products. Rosen/Red v. Unilever U.S., Inc., Nos. 09-02563, 10-00387 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal, San Francisco Div., joint motion filed June 6, 2011). Class counsel will receive up to $490,000 in fees if the settlement is approved, and the named plaintiffs will receive up to $4,500. Class members will give up their right to any other equitable or monetary relief.
The joint motion contends that the product reformulation is a substantial benefit to class members because the company is “the world’s leading manufacturer of margarine” and that requiring the company to do this “will substantially benefit its customers and will encourage competitors to also move away from the use of PHVOs [partially hydrogenated vegetable oils],” which will purportedly “have a tremendous positive impact on the health of American consumers.” In bolstering their case for settlement approval, the parties contend that the lawsuits may have faced dismissal on federal preemption grounds. A court hearing on the motion is scheduled for June 20, 2011.