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Ritchiel v. Sturm Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 12, 2019

LINDA SUCHANEK, RICHARD MCMANUS, CAROL CARR, PAULA GLADSTONE, EDNA AVAKIAN, CHARLES CARDILLO, BEN CAPPS, DEBORAH DIBENDETTO, and CAROL RITCHIE, Plaintiffs,
v.
STURM FOODS, INC. and TREEHOUSE FOODS, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This consumer fraud class action has been pending since June 28, 2011 (Doc. 1). On the eve of trial, after eight years of litigation, the parties agreed to settle the claims for $25 million, common fund, with no reversion to Defendants. Unfortunately, the parties have been unable to finalize the settlement agreement because of disputes over distribution of the common fund and the language on the claim forms (Docs. 429-32). They jointly seek the Court's guidance (Doc. 427).

         Damages under the Relevant Statutes

         Plaintiffs consist of consumers from eight states who purchased Defendants' product Grove Square Coffee (“GSC”). Each state has its own consumer fraud statute that calls for different damages:

Alabama: actual damages, or the sum of $100, whichever is greater; and treble damages in consideration of the amount of actual damages, the frequency of the unlawful acts, the number of persons affected, and whether the acts were intentional. Ala. Code § 8-19-10.
California: actual damages (at least $1, 000), an injunction, restitution, and punitive damages. Cal. Civ. Code § 1780.
Illinois: actual damages. 815 ILCS § 505/10a.
New Jersey: “appropriate legal or equitable relief, ” along with “threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-19.
New York: actual damages or fifty dollars, whichever is greater, and treble damages if the violation was knowing or willful. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 349(h).
North Carolina: treble damages are assessed automatically; “the measure of damages used should further the purpose of awarding damages, which is to restore the victim to his original condition, to give back to him that which was lost as far as it may be done by compensation in money.'” Belk, Inc. v. Meyer Corp. U.S., 679 F.3d 146, 165 (4th Cir. 2012).
South Carolina: actual damages; treble damages if the court finds a knowing or willful violation. S.C. Code Ann. § 39-5-140.
Tennessee: actual damages; treble damages when the violation was knowing or willful. Menuskin v. Williams, 145 F.3d 755, 768 (6th Cir. 1998).

         Plaintiffs' ...


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