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This case involves Taste of Nature candy Products enclosed in cardboard boxes and purchased in the United States between January 1, 2013 and June 18, 2018, which allegedly contain unlawful empty space (“non-functional slack-fill”).
For purposes of Settlement only, the Court has conditionally certified a Settlement Class. The Settlement is limited to Taste of Nature candy products that are substantially similar to the 3.1-ounce and 4.0-ounce opaque boxes of candy within the following product lines, including but not limited to: Cookie Dough Bites, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites, Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough Bites, Santa’s Village Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites, Cookies N’ Cream Cookie Dough Bites, Cinnamon Bun Bites, Red Velvet Cupcake Bites, Moon Pie Bites, Strawberry Dream Bites, Birthday Cake Cookie Dough Bites, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Muddy Bears, Shari Candies Cherry Sour Balls, Despicable Me 2 Sour Gummies, Sqwigglies, and Hello Kitty Treats. Subject to certain exclusions, the Settlement Class includes all natural Persons who, between January 1, 2013 and June 18, 2018, purchased, in the United States, any Products for personal use, not resale.
If the Settlement does not become effective (for example, because it is not finally approved, or the approval is reversed on appeal), then this Action will continue.
An Action was brought against Taste of Nature. The Action claims that Taste of Nature engaged in deceptive and unlawful conduct in packaging its candy Products in non-transparent, cardboard containers, which contain non-functional slack-fill (unlawful empty space).
Taste of Nature denies that there is any factual or legal basis for Plaintiff’s allegations or the claims in the Action. Taste of Nature denies any liability and that Plaintiff or any other members of the Settlement Class have suffered injury or are entitled to monetary or other relief. Taste of Nature also denies that this case can be certified as a class action, except for purposes of Settlement.
The Court has not determined whether Plaintiff or Defendant is correct.
While Defendant denies that there is any legal entitlement to a refund or any other monetary relief, Plaintiff’s complaint contends that by packaging its candy Products in non-transparent, cardboard containers, which contain non-functional slack-fill, Defendant caused people to purchase the Products who would not otherwise have done so, or would have done so on different terms. The complaint seeks to recover, on behalf of a class of all purchasers (other than re-sellers, retailers, or distributors), damages that are attributable to the alleged misrepresentations.
Class Counsel representing the Plaintiff has determined that there are significant risks of continuing the litigation. In particular, there may be substantial difficulties establishing that: (1) Defendant’s packaging of its candy Products in non-transparent, cardboard containers, contains non-functional slack-fill and was likely to deceive or confuse reasonable Persons; (2) the alleged misrepresentations were material to reasonable consumers; and/or (3) damages or restitution should be awarded or, if so, that any such award should be more than nominal. In particular, it may be difficult to establish that the volume of sales would have differed had the marketing and packaging been different.
The Parties have engaged in settlement discussions and, after taking into account the risks and costs of further litigation, Plaintiff and Class Counsel believe that the terms and conditions of the Settlement are fair, reasonable, adequate, and equitable, and that the Settlement is in the best interest of the Settlement Class Members.
In part, as a result of this Action, Taste of Nature will immediately evaluate the level of fill in the Products and will commence working on the design, fill-level, development and/or production of proposed modifications, fill-level and/or replacements for its existing packaging.
In addition, as part of the Settlement, Taste of Nature will provide a Benefit to Settlement Class Members and payments to Class Counsel and the Class Representatives, as described in the following questions.
Settlement Class Members may elect either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Benefit for Products purchased between January 1, 2013 and June 18, 2018, regardless of the price paid, subject to further adjustments or reductions:
(a) Tier 1. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form section for Tier 1 and who do not have valid Proof of Purchase may recover up to a maximum of $0.25 per Product for up to a maximum of four (4) Units ($1.00 per Household); or
(b) Tier 2. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form for Tier 2 and who provide valid Proof of Purchase may recover $0.25 per Product purchased for up to a maximum of fifty (50) Units ($12.50 per Household).
(c) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, the Settlement Administrator may make further adjustments to the Benefit based upon responses on the Claim Form.
To make a Claim, you must fill out the Claim Form available on this website. You can submit the Claim Form online, or you can print it and mail it to the Settlement Administrator at: Trentham v Taste of Nature Settlement, c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 59502, Philadelphia, PA 19102-9502. Claim Forms submitted via mail must be postmarked by December 24, 2018. Claim Forms filed online must be submitted by December 24, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time. Benefit payments will be made if the Court gives final approval to the proposed Settlement and after the Final Approval is no longer subject to appeal. Please be patient as this may take months, or even years in the event there is an appeal.
A Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for October 24, 2018. If the Court approves the Settlement and there are no appeals, the cash will be distributed approximately 60 days after the Claims Period is completed and Settlement is no longer subject to appeal or review. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, or if the Settlement is overturned on appeal, no Benefit payments will be made.
To date, Class Counsel has not been compensated for any of its work on this case. Class Counsel may apply to the Court to be awarded total compensation of up to $1,000,000 (including a $440,000 payment TO BE PAID OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS plus assignment of an insurance policy) from Taste of Nature to pay Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses.
In addition, the Class Representatives in this case may apply to the Court for a Class Representative Service Award up to $3,000 each, with a maximum of $15,000 in the aggregate. This payment is designed to compensate the Class Representatives for the time, effort, and risks they undertook in pursuing this litigation.
Plaintiff and Class Counsel will file a motion with the Court on or before October 17, 2018 in support of their Applications for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses and payment to the Class Representatives. A copy of that motion will be available on this website. The Court will determine the amount of the Fee and Expense Award and the Class Representative Service Award.
If you are a Class Member and you do not Opt-Out from the Settlement, you will be legally bound by all orders and judgment of the Court and to the Releases of the claims in a stipulation of Settlement. This means that in exchange for being a Settlement Class Member and being eligible for the cash Benefits of the Settlement, you will not be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Taste of Nature and/or any of the Released Parties that involves the same legal claims as those resolved through this Settlement.
You will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs or attorneys’ fees concerning this case if you stay in the class.
Staying in the class also means that you agree to the Releases of claims, which describe exactly the legal claims that you give up. To view the Releases of claims, please refer to the Long Form Notice located under the Documents section of this website.
You can Opt-Out from the Settlement Class and Action if you wish to retain the right to sue Taste of Nature separately for the Released Claims resolved by the Settlement. If you Opt-Out, you cannot file a Claim or file an Objection to the Settlement.
To Opt-Out, you must mail your request to Opt-Out from the Settlement to the Settlement Administrator at Trentham v Taste of Nature Settlement, c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 59502, Philadelphia, PA 19102-9502. The Opt-Out request must contain your name, address, the words “I wish to be excluded from the Trentham v. Taste of Nature Class Action,” and your signature. Opt-Out requests must be submitted via mail, postmarked by September 28, 2018.
You can ask the Court to deny approval of the Settlement by timely submitting an Objection. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger Settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the Settlement. If the Court denies approval to the entire Settlement, no Settlement payments will be sent out, and the lawsuit will continue.
You can also ask the Court to disapprove the requested payments to the Class Representatives and Class Counsel. If those payments are disapproved, no additional money will be paid to the Settlement Class. Instead, the funds earmarked for Class Representatives and Class Counsel will be retained by Taste of Nature.
You may also appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. If you want to raise an Objection to the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing, you must first submit that Objection in writing, by September 28, 2018.
Any Objection must include the case name and number Trentham v. Taste of Nature, Inc., Case No. 18PH-CV00751 (Phelps County Circuit Court, MO.); your name, address, and telephone number; the name and address of the lawyer(s), if any, who are representing you in making the Objection or who may be entitled to compensation in connection with your Objection; documents or testimony sufficient to establish that you are a member of the Settlement Class; a detailed statement of your Objection(s), including the grounds for those Objection(s); a statement as to whether you are requesting the opportunity to appear and be heard at the Final Approval Hearing; the identity of all counsel (if any) who will appear on your behalf at the Final Approval Hearing and all Persons (if any) who will be called to testify in support of your Objection; copies of any papers, briefs, or other documents upon which your objection is based; a detailed list of any other Objections you or your counsel have submitted to any class action in any state or federal court in the United States in the previous five years (or affirmatively stating that no such prior objection has been made); and your signature as objector, in addition to the signature of your attorney, if an attorney is representing you with the Objection. Failure to include this information and documentation may be grounds for overruling and rejecting your Objection.
All the information listed above must be delivered to the Clerk of the Court by mail, express mail, or personal delivery such that the objection is received by the Clerk of the Court (not just postmarked or sent) on or before September 28, 2018. Additionally, a copy of the Objection must also be provided to the Settlement Administrator, Class Counsel, and Defendant’s counsel.
If you object to the Settlement but still want to submit a Claim in the event the Court approves the Settlement, you must still submit a timely Claim according to the instructions described above.
By filing an Objection, you are consenting to the jurisdiction of the Court, and to produce documents and provide testimony prior to the Final Approval Hearing. You must also send a copy of your objection to both Class Counsel and Taste of Nature’s counsel at:
Counsel for Class
Stephen F. Gaunt
Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield
901 Pine Street, Suite 110
Rolla, MO 65401
Naomi B. Spector
9404 Genesee Avenue, Suite 340
La Jolla, CA 92037
Counsel for Defendant
E. Crystal Lopez
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky
And Popeo, P.C.
2029 Century Park E., #3100
Los Angeles, CA 90067
The Court will hold a hearing on October 24, 2018 to consider whether to approve the Settlement. The hearing will be held in the Circuit Court of Phelps County, Missouri, 200 N Main Street, Rolla, MO 65401 in the courtroom of the Honorable William Earl Hickle. The hearing is open to the public. This hearing date may change without further notice to you. Consult this website or the Court docket in this case available through the Court’s website (www.courts.mo.gov/casenet), for updated information on the hearing date and time.
You can inspect many of the court documents connected with this case on this website. Other papers filed in this lawsuit are available by accessing the Court docket in this case available through the Court’s website (www.courts.mo.gov/casenet).
You can also obtain additional information by contacting Class Counsel at STEELMAN, GAUNT & HORSEFIELD, 901 Pine Street, Suite 110, Rolla, MO 65401 or KAMBERLAW, LLP, 9404 Genesee Avenue, Suite 340, La Jolla, CA 92037.