A class settlement agreement was reached last Wednesday between McCormick & Company Inc. and Megan Holve, resolving allegations that the company claimed its spices were natural when they actually contained artificial ingredients. The $3 million settlement, which was filed with the court on Friday, includes injunctive relief and cash payments to class members.
The plaintiff filed a motion with the Western District of New York on Friday asking for the court to give preliminary approval to the class action settlement. Holve argued that the settlement should be given preliminary approval because it is within the range of a fair and reasonable settlement. The agreement said that the parties intend for the settlement to resolve all claims in the matter.
The motion further asked the court to appoint Holve as class representative and approve the notice program outlined in the settlement agreement, as well as opt-out and objection procedures. Additionally, the motion asked the court to appoint Holve’s counsel, Reese LLP and Eggnatz Pascucci P.C. as class counsel, schedule a hearing for final approval of the settlement, and stay the case until that hearing.
Holve filed the putative class action against McCormick on Oct. 27, 2016, almost five years ago. The complaint alleged that some of the products produced by the spice company violated Maryland and New York business laws and constituted unjust enrichment and unlawful and deceptive business practices. Purportedly the claim on labels that the products were “natural” were “deceptive or misleading.”
According to the settlement agreement, the court has not granted certification to the class, however, the parties agreed to conditionally certify the class for the settlement, and McCormick agreed to “class-action treatment of the claims … solely for the purpose of compromising and settling those claims on a class basis.”
However, the defendant has continued to deny that its advertising was misleading or violates any business laws. McCormick explained that it was willing to resolve the action in order to limit further expenses and risk of litigation.
Under the settlement, class members who have proof of purchase can receive up to $1.00 per item purchased, however without proof of purchase the amount is capped to 15 products, or $15.00. Each member of the class can submit a claim by mail or electronically.
McCormick is represented by Hogan Lovells US LLP.