On Wednesday, Judge Loretta A. Preska of the Southern District of New York issued an order granting final approval of the class action settlement in Hesse v. Godiva Chocolatier Inc. et al approving the settlement agreement of over $13 million dollars for Godiva’s allegedly misleading and deceptive labeling of their “Belgium 1926” products. This marks the conclusion of a years-long legal battle between the putative class and Godiva over the validity and severity of these claims.
This lawsuit was originally filed on January 31, 2019 by Steve Hesse for “false and deceptive packaging and advertising practices” for Godiva’s “Belgium 1926”-bearing products. Hesse noted that Belgian chocolates are considered the best in the world, and said Godiva is using this knowledge to trick consumers into believing their chocolates are produced in Belgium, while they are really made in Reading, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff claimed that reasonable consumers would not have been willing to pay as much for Godiva chocolates if they were informed of their true origin, and thus Godiva profited from deceiving their customers.
On October 26, 2021, the court granted the plaintiffs preliminary approval for their class action settlement and provisionally certified the class. They stated that appropriate notice was given to the class, since Godiva sent out over eight million emails to try and ensure that everyone in the class would receive notice of the impending settlement. Now, the class has been fully certified. Godiva has been ordered to pay a total of “$13,459,580.70: ($4,932,164.56 in attorneys’ fees, plus $7,555,229.38 in class payments, plus $972,186.74 in settlement notice and administration costs to date).” Despite complaints from other state attorneys general, the court declared that these amounts are reasonable.