Blue Diamond Reaches Settlement with Plaintiffs in Vanilla Flavoring Lawsuit

Plaintiffs in a putative class action lawsuit alleging that Blue Diamond Growers’ almond milk and almond milk yogurt products falsely claimed to be flavored with vanilla, when the flavor did not actually come primarily from vanilla, filed a motion asking the Southern District of New York to approve a $2 million class-action settlement between the parties on Monday. 

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the alleged misrepresentation caused them damage because they purchased an item they may not have otherwise purchased or paid as much for if it had been advertised more accurately. They purported that the actual extract from vanilla beans in the products was negligible. 

The accompanying memorandum of law explained the terms of the settlement and argued that the court should grant preliminary approval because the settlement is fair and is the result of informed negotiations. 

Under the terms of the settlement, class members will be able to submit up to $2 million in claims based on what they individually purchased during the class period. The memorandum reported that plaintiffs can “recover either more than full value of the inflated portion of the price of the purchases if a Settlement Class Member has Proof of Purchase, or 100% of the value of the claimed purchases if a Settlement Class Member does not possess Proof of Purchase.” 

Blue Diamond reportedly agreed not to oppose applications for each of the seven named plaintiffs for up to $3,571.42, based on their efforts as class representatives, or an application for a $550,000 payment for the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. 

The plaintiffs also asked the court to certify the settlement class and appoint class representatives and counsel. The motion also requested for the court to approve the proposed manner for settlement notice and schedule a hearing for final approval of the settlement. 

On Monday, before the settlement was filed, the plaintiffs filed a second amended class action complaint, which altered the putative class to include a nationwide class. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Sheehan & Associates P.C., Shub Law Firm LLC, and Reese LLP.  

This is one of many lawsuits filed against food companies alleging fraudulent misrepresentation of actual ingredients on the packaging.