Law Street Media

Kona Coffee Farmers Secure Approval of Settlement with L&K Coffee in Misbranding Class Action

A steaming cup of coffee.

Cup of hot drink on the table

An order was issued on Tuesday in the Western District of Washington at Seattle granting a motion for preliminary approval of a class settlement. The settlement was reached between a class, led by Bruce Corker, against defendant L&K Coffee Co. The complaint alleged that the defendants had violated the Lanham Act when they labeled coffee not from the Kona region of Hawaii as Kona coffee.

The class of plaintiffs are all coffee farmers who inhabit the Kona region of Hawaii and grow the entirety of the world’s supply of Kona coffee. The defendants in this suit, including L&K, purportedly misleadingly used labeling on their products which indicated their coffee was Kona coffee, when it was not from the plaintiff’s Kona region of Hawaii. The plaintiffs cited scientific testing in their complaint which confirmed that the coffee contained little to no authentic Kona coffee.

The settlement details that defendant L&K will alter its misleading labeling and pay penalties of $6.15 million. The plaintiff’s motion for settlement approval asserts that the class counsel and settlement class representatives have fulfilled their duties, the settlement is a product of arm’s length negotiations, that the relief for the class is substantial, and the class members receive equitable relief in relation to each other.

The motion contended that “this settlement will deliver a substantial monetary payment to class members and also provide for valuable injunctive relief that will benefit the members of the settlement class and prevent future economic harm.”

On Tuesday, the court entered favorable judgment in regard to the settlement and determined it to be “fair, reasonable, and adequate, entered into in good faith, and free collusion.”

The class is represented in the suit by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and Karr Tuttle Campbell. L&K was represented by Hatton, Petrie & Stackler, Savitt Bruce & Willey, Lane Powell, Atkins Intellectual Property, and Andrews Skinner.

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