Walmart has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit that accused it of deceiving customers about its discounts offered for on-clearance meats.
“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of consumers who purchased clearance meats from Walmart since Feb. 15, 2015, could be eligible for refunds, according to a settlement notice filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.
Vassilios Kukorinis, who lives in Hillsborough County, Fla., sued Walmart in federal court last year after noticing that the per-pound clearance price advertised on soon-to-be-expired meat wasn’t what the retailer actually used when calculating the final price to consumers.
Kukorinis’ attorneys determined consumers were overcharged by $1.67 per purchase.
Terms of the settlement call for Walmart to establish a settlement fund of at least $4.5 million and up to $9.5 million if enough consumers claim refunds.
Consumers eligible for refunds include anyone who purchased weighted goods from Walmart since Feb. 13, 2015, “whose weighted goods’ unit sale price was not accurately reflected in the final sale price,” the agreement states.
Eligible purchasers will receive:
—Up to $10 if they submit a sworn affidavit stating that they purchased allegedly mispriced meats.
—Up to $40 if they can produce receipts or proofs of purchase but without packaging that would show the actual amount overcharged.
—Non-capped amounts for consumers who can produce receipts or proofs of purchase plus packaging showing the actual amount of the overcharge.
If the claim is rejected for any reason, consumers will be given an opportunity to correct errors or deficiencies identified by the claims administrator, the settlement states.
A website for affected consumers to register their claims will go live once the court approves the settlement agreement, said John Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, which is representing Kukronis in the lawsuit.
Attorneys representing Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the settlement.
Walmart agreed to the settlement without admitting any wrongdoing, but agreed to change how it prices and marks its weighted goods, terms of the settlement state.
Kukorinis filed his suit in February 2019, claiming that Walmart violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act to unfairly enrich itself.
As the suit commenced, he submitted details of alleged overcharging at 12 Walmart stores in central and southern Florida, including in Miami, the suit states.
An example recounted in Kukorinis’ complaint described a package of chicken tenders that weighed 1.18 pounds and was originally priced at $5.78 a pound. The total package was originally priced at $6.82.
As the product’s expiration date approached, Walmart reduced the per-pound price to $3.77, which should have reduced the 1.18-pound package’s price to $4.45. But instead, the sale price was $5.93, or $1.48 more than it should have been if the per-pound price had actually been reduced to $3.77.
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