We learned this week that you can indeed “fight city hall” when word came that Filippo Berio Olive Oil settled a class action lawsuit regarding falsely labeled and misleading products. The lawsuit claimed that Salov North America Corp. (SNA) Filippo Berio olive oil products were inappropriately labeled as “Imported from Italy” on the front label.
The plaintiff, Rohini Kumar, an individual acting on her own behalf and that of the general public, claimed that most of the olive oil in the products in question originates from olives grown in other countries, which are then shipped to Italy for blending and bottling before being exported to the United States.
As a result of this action, SNA has agreed to remove the phrase “Imported from Italy” from all olive oil products imported into the United States, and replace that phrase with the word “Imported.” SNA has also agreed not to use the phrases “Imported from Italy,” “Made in Italy,” “Product of Italy,” or any other phrase on the label of a product sold in the United States, and instead to use the designation “Imported” on the front panel, until at least three years after the settlement effective date – unless the product is 100% Italian olive oil composed entirely of oil extracted in Italy from olives grown in Italy.
Kumar’s original suit in 2014 also alleged that SNA’s extra virgin olive oil failed to meet state or federal standards for the term “extra virgin,” claiming that the company mixed the products with refined oil and packaged them in clear bottles that caused the oil to oxidize when exposed to sunlight.
In January 2016, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers allowed Kumar to drop her claims related to the product’s purported “extra virgin” quality and shift the focus to its “Imported from Italy” labeling.
SNA claims that they always identified all countries of origin of the olive oil. Further that SNA’s products are made by skilled Italian artisans who test, taste, and blend olive oils in Italy to achieve the unique Filippo Berio flavor.
I tend to agree with Ms. Kumar that the labeling by SNA was misleading, and the presence of the words “from Italy” allowed the company to charge higher prices on the olive oil. SNA Filippo Berio of course denies any wrongdoing.
So what does this mean for you the potential owner or purchaser of Filippo Berio Olive Oils?
In the case of Kumar v. Salov North America Corp., Case No. 4:14-cv-02411-YGR (N.D. Cal.), you are an eligible class member if you purchased, between May 23, 2010 and June 30, 2015, (in the United States, for personal use and not resale), any of the following Filippo Berio branded olive oil products:
+ Robusto Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
+ Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
+ Delicato Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
+ Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
+ Olive Oil,
+ Light Tasting Olive Oil.
If so, you may receive a payment of $0.50 per can or bottle purchased. A minimum of $2.00 will be paid to any “class member” who submits a valid claim. Claimants can obtain payments for up to 10 purchases (up to $5.00 per household) without proof of purchase. Proof of purchase is required to obtain a payment of more than $5.00 per household (for more than 10 bottles or cans purchased).
Of course, this being a legal settlement the lawyers want you to know you have the right to make a claim, object to the settlement, exclude yourself from the litigation, or to do nothing at all.
To receive a payment, you must submit a claim, either online or by mail to the administrator. Your claim must be postmarked by May 2, 2017.
If you are a total geek, you can submit paperwork excluding yourself from the settlement, but seriously who is going to take such an action?
If you for whatever reason want to object, you must submit an objection in writing that complies with the requirements in the settlement notice available at www.SNAOliveOilSettlement.com. Your objection must be received by May 2, 2017.
And last but not least, you can simply do nothing. You will receive no payment, and have no right to sue later for the claims released by the settlement.
Payments will be made to the claimants only if the Court approves the settlement and all appeals are resolved. You will need to be patient, the payment won’t come quickly.
For more information, please visit www.SNAOliveOilSettlement.com, or contact the claim administrator at 1-844-702-2783 or by writing to: Kumar v Salov, c/o Heffler Claims Group, P.O. Box 58476, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8476, or contact class counsel Gutride Safier LLP at www.gutridesafier.com.