MIAMI – Walmart Inc. agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the retailer of improperly labeling weighted goods — including beef, pork, poultry, fish and other types of goods marked with unit pricing — when reducing the price of those goods as they near their expiration dates. Walmart denied any liability or wrongdoing in the matter.
As part of the settlement agreement, Walmart agreed to pay, on a claims-made basis, a minimum of $4.5 million up to a maximum amount of $9.5 million.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by Vassilios Kukorinis on Feb. 13, 2019, in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In the initial complaint, Kukorinis alleged that from Feb. 13, 2015, to the present, Walmart advertised false unit prices for weighted goods placed on sale close to their respective expiration dates.
“Walmart advertised those weighted goods at specific unit sale prices, but upon closer inspection, the final sale prices did not coincide with the unit sale prices based on the weight of the products as represented on the original labels (the “Pricing Practice”),” according to the complaint. “As a result, Walmart consumers did not receive the promised value for the weighted goods they purchased.”
For example, on Nov. 18, 2018, Walmart sold a package of chicken tenders that weighed 1.18 lbs at a unit price of $5.78 per pound, that originally retailed for $6.82. This information was printed on the original label of the chicken tenders.
The court document states that, as the product’s expiration date approached, Walmart reduced the unit sale price to $3.77 per pound, which should have resulted in a reduced sale price of $4.45. Instead, the sale price was $5.93, which Walmart charged upon checkout.
“As a result, Walmart obtained $1.48 (i.e., the difference between $5.93 and $4.45) more than what was justified by the unit sale price,” according to the complaint. “Based upon the unit sale price, a reasonable consumer would have expected to receive 1.57 pounds of chicken tenders, but instead only received 1.18 pounds.”
Kukorinis sued Walmart for “deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable Pricing Practice” that violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and for unjust enrichment under Florida common law. Walmart denied any liability or wrongdoing in the matter.
Kukorinis and Walmart participated in a private mediation with Michelle Yoshida of Phillips ADR Enterprises P.C. As a result of mediation and negotiations that followed, Kukorinis and Walmart reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit.
Walmart will fund a Qualified Settlement Fund (QSF) to provide class members with the opportunity to submit a claim for a payment. Settlement class members will be sorted into three groups:
1) those who attest to the number of weighted goods they purchased, but do not have any receipts, packaging, or other documentation (the monetary payment for this group will be capped at a total of $10.00);
2) those who attest to the number of weighted goods they purchased and have receipts, but no packaging or other documentation to demonstrate how much they were overcharged (the monetary payment for this group will be capped at a total of $40.00); and
3) those who attest to the number of weighted goods they purchased and have receipts, packaging, and other documentation to demonstrate how much they were overcharged. The monetary payment for this group will not be capped.