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$12 Million Recovered for Consumers in Olive Oil False Advertising Class Actions

Outcome: $12 Million in 3 Settlements

Kumar v. Salov North America Corp., Case No.: 4:14-cv-02411 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Kumar v. Safeway, Inc., et al., Case No.: RG14726707 in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda

Koller v. Deoleo USA, Inc., Case No.: 3:14-CV-02400-RS in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Plaintiff Rohini Kumar filed a lawsuit in March 2014, alleging that the Salov falsely labeled its Filippo Berio brand of olive oil as “Imported from Italy,” despite the olives being sourced and oil extracted from countries other than Italy. This labeling practice was alleged be in violation of federal and state regulations including the Tariff Act of 1930, the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, and related California consumer protection laws.

On July 15, 2016, the Court certified a class of California purchasers of the non-organic Filippo Berio Olive Oil products, for the time period between May 23, 2010, and June 30, 2015. While Salov North America Corp. denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to product labeling changes, including the prohibition of using “Imported from Italy” and comparable phrases suggesting Italian origin of oils on products sold in the U.S., unless the product is entirely composed of oil from Italian olives. They agreed to use “Imported” for at least three years following the settlement and agreed to a settlement sum of $5,000,000.


On March 16, 2018, Tycko & Zavareei won approval for a settlement in a false advertising case, Kumar v. Safeway Inc. Safeway labelled its Safeway Select olive oil products as both “Imported from Italy” and “Extra Virgin,” but Tycko & Zavareei attorneys, led by partner Hassan Zavareei, argued that both labels were untrue. Tycko & Zavareei alleged that, although some of Safeway’s olive oil products were bottled in Italy, the olives were grown and processed in other countries. Safeway also bottled “Extra Virgin” olive oil in clear bottles, causing the oil to be exposed to light and degrade from extra virgin quality.
In this case, Tycko & Zavareei fought against false advertising which tricked customers into paying an higher price for a lower-quality product. The settlement achieved two goals: recouping the price premiums that customers paid for what they believed to be a higher-quality product and requiring Safeway to change the misleading labels. Two classes of California consumers were able to receive cash or vouchers based on which products they purchased and when they purchased them. Customers could receive up to five vouchers without showing proof of purchase, and could use their Safeway Club Card number to provide proof of additional purchases, allowing customers to easily claim their portion of the settlement even if they no longer had their receipts.

In May 2014, a class action lawsuit was initiated by Scott Koller against Deoleo USA, Inc., formerly known as Med Foods, Inc. The complaint centered on claims that Deoleo misrepresented its Bertolli brand olive oil products. The principal allegations were that the “Imported from Italy” label was misleading, as most of the olive oil was extracted from olives grown and harvested in other countries. Additionally, certain olive oils were labeled “Extra Virgin”, but practices did not ensure they met this standard through the retail sale date or “best by” dates.

The lawsuit alleged violations across federal regulations and California-specific laws regarding olive oil marketing and labeling standards, including the Tariff Act of 1930, Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, and California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, among others.

Following legal proceedings, the court certified two California classes of olive oil purchasers. Deoleo USA denied all allegations.

Settlement Terms
In 2018, the parties reached a settlement. The terms include: Deoleo USA began making changes to its product labeling in December 2013, which did not state “Imported from Italy.” These changes were completed by the end of 2015. Deoleo agreed to maintain these labeling changes and to implement additional modifications to the branding and packaging for at least three years following the settlement’s effective date. A settlement fund of $7,000,000 was established to provide relief to affected consumers.

Tycko & Zavareei believes that customers should get the products they pay for, and these settlements help ensure that customers will not be deceived by false or misleading advertising.

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