This lawsuit alleges that retail food and drug chain Safeway, Inc. deceptively marketed and sold underfilled cans of tuna, in violation of federal regulations and California statutes.
Safeway Inc. (SWY), owned by Albertsons LLC, is the second largest supermarket chain in the U.S. and Canada with over 2,200 stores. As part of its operations, Safeway is engaged in the processing, packaging, and distribution of Safeway brand canned tuna items, which are sold at its retail locations.
From approximately 2012 through the end of 2014, California resident Ehder Soto made bi-weekly purchases of approximately five 5 ounce cans of Safeway Chunk Light Tuna in Water at a Santa Cruz, California area Safeway store. According to Soto, the Safeway tuna cans he purchased were all underfilled and substantially underweight.
On November 5, 2015, Soto filed a class action suit against Safeway (U.S. District Court Northern District of California) alleging that Safeway, as the designer, manufacturer, marketer, distributor, and/or seller, expressly warranted that Safeway tuna contained an adequate amount of tuna for a 5-ounce can and was legal for sale in the United States. The complaint includes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration testing data finding that 106 out of 108 Safeway tuna cans did not contain as much tuna as was indicated on the label. Soto cites federally mandated fill standards requiring that 5 ounce cans of tuna have a minimum of 2.84 ounces by weight and claims Safeway’s cans contained an average of only 2.29 ounces of pressed cake tuna (19.4 percent below the minimum standard).
The suit claims that purchasers have been injured and harmed because: (a) they would not have purchased Safeway tuna on the same terms if the true facts were known concerning its quantity and failure to comply with FDA regulations; (b) they paid a price premium for Safeway tuna based on Safeway’s representations that it contained an adequate amount of tuna for a 5-ounce can; and (c) Safeway tuna did not have the characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities as promised.
Soto seeks class action certification for all U.S. purchasers, and a subclass of purchasers in California, of 5-ounce cans of Safeway Chunk Light Tuna in Water and 5-ounce cans of Safeway Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water for breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. The complaint also alleges Safeway violated several California statues, including the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, restitution and attorneys fees and costs are requested for Soto and class members.
We will update this lawsuit in early 2016.