A federal judge in California has rejected a settlement in a class-action suit against General Mills, saying it seems to be structured entirely for the benefit of lawyers in the case and offers consumers next to nothing.
The lawsuit, brought by individuals in California, centered on whether General Mills committed fraud by stating that certain of its fruit snacks have “no artificial flavors” when they in fact contain dimalic acid.
Under the proposed settlement, the only relief consumers would get is an asterisk on the packaging after the phrase “no artificial flavors” directing them to a website that would inform about the dimalic acid. The plaintiff’s lawyers, meanwhile, would get $725,000.
The judge in the case, M. James Lorenz, ruled that the award was excessive given the amount of work the lawyers did, which amounted to filing the suit, defending a motion to dismiss, and engaging in initial discovery of documents. He also allowed a defendant in a similar suit in Illinois to intervene in the California case, as protection for the plaintiff class members. Lorenz ordered settlement proceedings to continue.