You have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement.
The Court in charge of this case is the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (the “Court”), and the case is called DiFrancesco, et al. v. Utz Quality Foods, Inc., Case No. 1:14-CV-14744-DPW (D. Mass.). The individuals who sued are called the Plaintiffs, or Class Representatives, and the company they sued, Utz Quality Foods, Inc. (“Utz”), is called the Defendant.
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendant violated certain laws in labeling, marketing, and advertising of certain Utz and Bachman branded products. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that through a nationwide advertising campaign, the Defendant sold its products by advertising that they were “All Natural.” The lawsuit alleges that the products are not “All Natural” in that they contain ingredients that are chemically derived, heavily processed, synthetic, and/or artificial, and/or ingredients containing and/or derived from Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”). Utz denies any and all wrongdoing of any kind whatsoever, and denies any liability to Plaintiffs and to the Settlement Class.
In a class action, one or more people, called “Plaintiffs,” or “Class Representatives,” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are in a “Class” or “Settlement Class,” except for those who exclude themselves from the class. United States District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is in charge of this class action.
The Defendant is not admitting that it did anything wrong and both sides want to avoid the cost of further litigation. The Court has not decided in favor of the Plaintiffs or the Defendant. The Plaintiffs and their attorneys think the Settlement is best for everyone who is affected. The Settlement provides the opportunity for Settlement Class Members to receive Settlement benefits.
The Settlement Class includes all persons who, between December 30, 2010 and March 30, 2019, purchased in the United States any of the Eligible Products. Excluded from the Class are: (a) Utz’s board members or executive-level officers; (b) persons who purchased the Eligible Products primarily for the purpose of resale, including, but not limited to, retailers or re-sellers of the Eligible Products; (c) governmental entities; (d) persons who timely and properly exclude themselves from the Class as provided in this Agreement; and (e) the Court, the Court’s immediate family, and Court staff.
The Eligible Products in the Settlement include any and all products of any size, style, flavor and variety containing the Utz or Bachman brand which are or were labeled with the word “Natural,” or phrases “All Natural,” “non GMO,” or “not synthetic,” or any other words or phrases to convey the same or similar meanings, including the Utz and Bachman branded products identified below.
Eligible Products include all sizes, styles, flavors, and varieties of the following products:
If you are not sure whether you are a Settlement Class Member, or have any other questions about the Settlement Agreement, you should, call toll-free 1-855-639-2983 or email your questions to info@UtzSettlement.com.
The Settlement provides for the establishment of a Settlement Fund with a value of $1,250,000.00 to pay (1) the claims made by Class Members who submit a timely and complete Claim Form up to $20 per household depending on amount of products purchased, (2) all costs of notice and administration; (3) ) any Service Awards awarded by the Court to the named Plaintiffs, which shall not exceed $5,000 to each named Plaintiff (or $15,000 total); and (4) Attorneys’ Fees, not to exceed $415,000, and Expenses awarded by the Court. The actual amount recovered by each Settlement Class Member will not be determined until after the Claim Period has ended and all Claims have been calculated. Class Members who submit a valid, timely, and complete Claim Form ( below regarding how to obtain a Claim Form), are entitled to receive a cash payment of Two Dollars ($2.00) per Qualifying Purchase up to a maximum of Twenty Dollars ($20.00) per household from the Settlement Fund. The actual amount recovered by each Settlement Class Member will not be determined until after the Claim Period has ended and all Claims have been calculated.
If you submit a timely, complete and valid Claim Form by the deadline, you can get a cash payment from the Settlement Fund. If, after subtracting from the Settlement Fund the Service Awards for the Class Representatives, Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, and the costs of Class Notice and administration, the funds remaining in the Settlement Fund are insufficient to pay all of the approved Claims, then Class Member payments will be reduced proportionately.
If there are any funds remaining in the Settlement Fund (“Residual Funds”) after the payment of all valid Claims, Notice and Administration costs, Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, and Service Awards, they shall be distributed to the non-profit organization called Consumers Union, if approved by the Court.
In addition to the relief described above, as part of the Settlement, within four (4) months after the Final Settlement Date, Utz shall cease to use the term “Natural” and “All Natural” on its labeling and advertising of Eligible Products.
Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you cannot sue the Defendant or any of the Released Parties identified in the Settlement Agreement, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendant or any of the Released Parties identified in the Settlement Agreement about the claims that this Settlement resolves. It also means that all of the decisions by the Court will bind you. The legal claims that you give up if you stay in the Settlement Class are as follows: Any and all manner of individual, class, representative, group and collective claims, actions, causes of action, suits, liabilities, rights, debts, sums of money, payments, obligations, reckonings, contracts, agreements, executions, promises, damages, losses, liens, judgments, matters and demands of whatever kind, type, description or nature whatsoever, both at law and in equity, that a Releasing Party ever had, now has, or hereafter can, shall or may ever have against any of the Released Parties, including assigned claims, mature or not yet mature, known or unknown, asserted or unasserted, suspected or unsuspected, contingent or non-contingent, that arose, or are based on actions, conduct, events, transactions or omissions occurring on or before date notice is disseminated to members of the proposed Class, whether based on federal, state, or local law, statute, ordinance, regulation, code, contract, common law, or any other source, or any claim that a Releasing Party ever had, now has, or hereafter can, shall or may ever have against any of the Released Parties arising from, concerning or in any way relating to the labeling, manufacturing, distribution, sale, marketing, promotion, or advertising, regardless of medium, of any of the Eligible Products and/or the claims alleged in the Action including, but without in any way limiting the generality of the foregoing, those arising from, directly or indirectly, or in any way whatsoever pertaining or relating to: (1) the claims alleged or which could have been alleged in the Action; (2) any communications, disclosures, nondisclosures, representations, misrepresentations, statements, claims, omissions, warnings, messaging, marketing, promotion, advertising, packaging, displays, labeling or brochures arising from or in any way whatsoever relating to, the sale and/or resale by the Released Parties of the Eligible Products and the claims alleged in the Action; (3) any claims for rescission, restitution, injunctive relief, or unjust enrichment of any kind related in any way to the purchase, sale, labeling, advertising, marketing or promotion of the Eligible Products and the claims alleged in the Action; (4) violations of any state or federal deceptive, unlawful and/or unfair business and/or trade practices, false, misleading or fraudulent advertising, consumer fraud and/or consumer protection statutes related in any way to the purchase, sale, labeling, advertising, promotion, or marketing of the Eligible Products and the claims alleged in the Action; (5) any claims of fraud, negligence, product liability, conspiracy, violation of the Uniform Commercial Code, breach of contract, breach of express, implied and/or any other warranties and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act related in any way to the purchase, sale, labeling, advertising, or promotion, marketing of the Eligible Products and the claims alleged in the Action; or (6) damages, costs, expenses, extra-contractual damages, compensatory damages, exemplary damages, special damages, statutory damages, penalties, punitive damages and/or damage multipliers, disgorgement, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, restitution, expenses, interest, and/or attorneys’ fees and costs related in any way to the purchase, sale, labeling, advertising, promotion, or marketing of the Eligible Products and the claims alleged in the Action. The Amended Settlement Agreement is available HERE.
To be eligible to receive a payment from the Settlement, you must complete and submit a timely Claim Form. You can complete and submit your Claim Form Online HERE. The Claim Form can be downloaded HERE, as well. You can request a Claim Form be sent to you by sending a written request to the Settlement Administrator by mail or by email:
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Please read the instructions carefully, fill out the Claim Form, and mail it postmarked no later than JULY 28, 2019 to: Utz Settlement, Settlement Administrator, 1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or submit your Claim Form online on this Settlement Website, by JULY 28, 2019.
If you do not submit a valid Claim Form by the deadline, you will not receive a payment. Any information you provide may be submitted to a federal or state agency in the administration of this relief.
Payments will be mailed to Settlement Class Members who send in valid, timely and approved Claim Forms after the Court grants “final approval” to the Settlement and after any and all appeals are resolved. If the Court approves the Settlement after a hearing on September 13, 2019 at 3:00 p.m., there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time.
If your name or address needs to be corrected, you must send a letter to the Settlement Administrator at Utz Settlement, Settlement Administrator, 1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
If you don’t want a payment from the Settlement Fund, and you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue the Defendant on your own about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out. This is called excluding yourself—or it is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the Settlement Class.
To exclude yourself (or “opt out”) from the Settlement, you must complete and mail by U.S. Mail to the Settlement Administrator a written request that includes the following:
You must mail your exclusion request, postmarked no later than JUNE 13, 2019 to:
Attn: Utz Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 58220
1500 John F Kennedy Blvd., Suite C31
Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you don’t include the required information or submit your request for exclusion on time, you will remain a Settlement Class Member and will not be able to sue the Defendant about the claims that this Settlement resolves.
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any sight to sue the Defendant for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement Class to continue your own lawsuit.
No. You will not get any money from the Settlement if you exclude yourself. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, do not send in a Claim Form asking for benefits.
If you are a Class Member, you can object to the Settlement, Class Counsel’s request for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, and Service Awards to the Class Representatives. To object, you must write a letter that includes the following:
Your objection, along with any supporting material you wish to submit, must be filed with the Court through the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (“CM/EMF”) or through any other method in which the Court will accept filings, with a copy delivered to Class Counsel and to Utz’s Counsel no later than JUNE 13, 2019 at the following addresses:
United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts
Courtroom 1, Third Floor
1 Courthouse Way
Boston, MA 02210
AHDOOT & WOLFSON, PC
10728 Lindbrook Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024
|Counsel for Utz||Counsel for Utz|
Kathleen M. Guilfoyle
Christopher R. Howe
CAMPBELL, CAMPBELL, EDWARDS & CONROY, P.C.
One Constitution Plaza, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02129
45 Broadway, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10006
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement. Excluding yourself from the Settlement is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Settlement. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.
Yes. The Court has appointed the following lawyers and law firm as “Class Counsel,” meaning that they were appointed to represent all Class Members: Robert Ahdoot and Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson, PC.
You will not be charged for these lawyers. They will be paid out of the Settlement Fund. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
Class Counsel will make an application to the Court for an award of reasonable Attorney’s Fees plus Expenses incurred up to the submission of the application to the Court, up to a maximum of $415,000. Class Counsel’s application to the Court will be made prior to the Fairness Hearing. The Court will determine the amount of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses to award, which will not exceed $415,000. Class Counsel will also request that $5,000.00 be paid from the Settlement Fund to each of the three Class Representatives who helped the lawyers on behalf of the whole Class.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 at 3:00 P.M. at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, before the Honorable Douglas P. Woodlock, United States District Judge, in Courtroom 1, Third Floor, in the United States District Court, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02210.
The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check this website for updates. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will also consider how much to pay Class Counsel and the Class Representatives. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at this time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions that the Court may have. But, you may come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you properly filed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must write a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear.” In your letter, you must include the following:
Your Notice of Intent to Appear must be filed with the Court no later than JUNE 13, 2019, with copies delivered to Class Counsel and Utz’s Counsel at their respective addresses listed above.
If you do nothing, you will not get a payment from the Settlement. Unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendant about the claims that this Settlement resolves, ever again.
More details are in the Settlement Agreement. If you have additional questions or want to request a Claim Form, you can write to the Settlement Administrator by mail or email, or call toll-free.
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Class Counsel:Adhoot & Wolfson, PC
10728 Lindbrook Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Updates will be posted as information about the Settlement process becomes available.
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR THE CLERK’S OFFICE CONCERNING THIS CASE.