Judge Refuses to Approve Settlement in Kellogg Sugar Misrepresentation Suit

On Thursday, the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, denied the plaintiffs’ motion asking the court to enforce its settlement with Kellogg Sales Company and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for settlement approval in a suit alleging that Kellogg violated California and New York laws by putting misleading statements on food packaging which misrepresent that the products are healthier and contain less sugar than they actually do. 

In the order, Judge Lucy Koh said that the court had held a hearing on the matter on Thursday, during which the plaintiffs withdrew their motion for settlement enforcement. To explain the dismissal of the motion for settlement approval, the court cited a previous order in which the preliminary approval for the settlement was denied in February. In that order, the court denied the motion with prejudice because the claims were overbroad, it was unclear whether certification of the class was appropriate, the settlement structure was purportedly inconsistent under the Class Action Fairness Act, the parties did not provide sufficient information, and there were errors in the forms. 

The plaintiffs in the putative class action suit include: Stephen Hadley, Melody DiGregorio, Eric Fishon, Kerry Austin, and Nafeesha Madyun. They are seeking a class of anyone who purchased the products, specifically Raisin Bran, Krave, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Smart Start, Crunchy Nut, and Nutri-Grain Bars, since August of 2012. The complaint, filed in 2016, said that there has been a rise in sugar consumption and cited detrimental effects to health from eating an excess amount of sugar and that Kellogg’s marketing which misrepresented the health of its products adds to this problem. 

In Thursday’s order, the court also continued a case management conference, where the parties will discuss a referral to alternative dispute resolution and when the parties will file a new motion for preliminary approval of a settlement, to December 9. Kellogg is represented by Jenner & Block. The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Jack Fitzgerald.