Parents, be forewarned: there’s a terrible danger out there. Delicious, sweet, spreadable chocolate is available for purchase in your supermarkets, but it’s NOT healthy for your kids! Who would have thought?!? But ignorance is bliss — very bliss — and in the case of Uninformed Moms vs. Nutella, it was worth $3.5 million in a class action lawsuit settlement.
This latest example of the U.S. legal system run wild comes to us from California where two mothers filed suit against Ferrero USA, Inc., the maker of Nutella — a spreadable, chocolate-flavored hazelnut product. ABC News reports that one of the plaintiffs — Athena Hohenberg of San Diego — sued the company because she was confused into thinking that Nutella is a health food, and she was “was shocked to learn” that Nutella “was the next best thing to a candy bar.”
The root of their claim is that the company is guilty of false advertising. The TV ad for Nutella highlights how the product is made from “simple, quality ingredients like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of coco.” According to one of the plaintiffs, “I thought it was at least as nutritious as peanut butter if not more and that’s the impression I got from the advertisement. I thought it had health benefits and it clearly doesn’t.”
Now, the company is settling for $3.5 million — or anywhere from $4 to $20 per person in the class.
The thing is, if you take a look at a jar of Nutella, you’ll quickly see for yourself that the product isn’t that healthy. According to the government-mandated nutrition label, two tablespoons contain 200 calories, 11 grams of fat (3.5 grams saturated), and 21 grams of sugar. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to realize that isn’t healthy. But one of the plaintiffs — Laura Rude-Barbato, a mother of three — said that reading food labels is out of the question. “If I stopped to read every label, I’d probably spend four or five hours in the grocery store,” she said.
Now Rude-Barbato’s apparent lack of common sense is paying off, and Ferrero USA is paying the price.
Unfortunately, when companies are hit with frivolous lawsuits and they have to pay out, the money comes from their bottom line. That means less money for innovation, investing and expanding — and that means fewer jobs. Frivolous lawsuits cost Americans billions of dollars per year — one estimate puts the total cost on the U.S. economy of $865 billion per year, amounting to an annual “tort tax” of $9,827 on a family of four. To fix the system, states need to make tort reform a top priority so that frivolous lawsuits don’t impose even greater costs on an already struggling economy.