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October 23rd, 2015

‘Footlong’ Settlement: Lawyers Feed, Consumers Fast

As is almost always the case with contrived consumer class actions, lawyers who served up the now infamous Subway “footlong” litigation are poised to feed on more than a half-million dollars in fees while their putative clients go hungry.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that a federal judge in Wisconsin, where nine class actions alleging Subway’s sandwiches weren’t always quite as long as advertised had been consolidated, has offered preliminary approval of a proposed settlement.

The settlement will give the plaintiffs’ lawyers $525,000 to share between themselves; $1,000 to each of the nine named plaintiffs; and, wait for it, absolutely nothing to any of  the estimated tens of millions of class members who’d purchased a “footlong” or six-inch sandwich at Subway since 2003.

To be more accurate, those millions of sandwich consumers will get something: a nebulous pledge from Subway to be more careful with its quality control and higher prices.

Why higher prices?  Because Subway amassed huge legal bills defending itself for nearly three years against this inane litigation, and those costs will now be passed on to future sandwich buyers.

ATRA's Random Test Sandwich, January 2013

ATRA’s Random Test Sandwich, January 2013

Loyal Hellholes readers may recall that, when news of these lawsuits began to break in January 2013, ATRA randomly purchased a Subway “footlong” and took it back to its Washington, D.C. offices for measurement.  The photo to the right shows that our sandwich marginally exceeded 12 inches.  We argued then and argue now that, on average, the sandwiches probably come pretty close to a full foot far more often than not.  Yet judges let these nonsense lawsuits proceed — at significant expense to both taxpayers, who provide court resources, and consumers, as noted above.

One of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys whined to the Journal-Sentinel that the fees he and his fellow shysters will receive in the settlement won’t cover all their time and effort.  Perhaps he should have considered that prospect before he shamed himself and his profession by filing such a meritless lawsuit.

Of course, the original lawsuits alleging fraud and deceptive trade practices sought multimillion-dollar awards for damages.  But the defendant’s news release issued earlier this week makes clear that nothing in the settlement finds Subway’s marketing to have been unlawful or improper.  In other words, yet another bogus consumer class action has perverted our civil justice system and served no practical purpose beyond making a few lawyers’ wallets a little fatter.

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