Monday, November 28, 2022

Timing Is Everything

By Michael Caruso 

I rarely write about pending cases, but this case caught my attention as a former line cook and current lawyer.

Recently, Amanda Ramirez filed a $5 million class action lawsuit against Kraft Heinz Foods Company in Miami—the Hon. Beth Bloom is presiding. The lawsuit doesn't need any embellishment. Here are the allegations (slightly paraphrased but CAPS in original):

1. Kraft sells microwavable single-serve cups of mac and cheese represented as "READY IN 3½ MINUTES" under the Velveeta brand.

2. The statement "ready in 3½ minutes" is false and misleading because the mac and cheese takes longer than 3-and-a-half minutes to prepare for consumption. 

3. There are four steps in preparing the mac and cheese:

      a. Consumers must "REMOVE lid and Cheese Sauce Pouch;

      b. Next, they must "ADD water to fill the line in the cup. STIR."; 

      c. Third, "MICROWAVE, uncovered, on HIGH 3-1/2 min. DO NOT DRAIN."; 


      d. Finally, they should "STIR IN contents of cheese sauce pouch." 


Here's the crux of the suit: "Consumers seeing 'ready in 3½ minutes' will believe it represents the total amount of time it takes to prepare the [mac and cheese], meaning from the moment it is unopened to the moment it is ready for consumption. 

However, the directions outlined above show that 3-and-a-half minutes is just the length of time to complete one of several steps. The label does not state the mac and cheese takes '3½ minutes to cook in the microwave,' which would have been true."

Ms. Ramirez then states the obvious: "To provide consumers with mac and cheese that is actually 'ready in 3½ minutes,' it would need to be cooked in the microwave for less than 3-and-a-half minutes so that all the preparation steps could be completed in the 3-and-a-half minute timeframe. Consumers are misled to expect the mac and cheese will be ready for consumption in a shorter amount of time than it really takes to prepare."


I understand that Tarantino has acquired the film rights.


Ramirez v. Kraft Heinz, 22-cv-23782-BB


Anonymous said...

And not only has the Plaintiff one attorney to represent her, her NY counsel, dubbed the "Vanilla Vigilante" (see article linked), has local counsel in on this too!

Anonymous said...

This is almost as dumb as the lawsuit against Texas Pete's hot sauce because it's manufactured in North Carolina (which is, um, disclosed on the label, just like the mac and cheese instructions state that the cooking time is 3.5 minutes). These bullshit cases have been getting laughed out of court for a while, honestly surprised they're still getting filed.

Anonymous said...

"Ready in 3 1/2 minutes" IS misleading. Seller should be accurate. Not sure about damages. Maybe a refund of purchase price? Did the buyer pursue that remedy directly with the store or company before filing a federal lawsuit?

Rumpole said...

I don’t know. Get a couple of Mac and cheese lovers on the jury , not to mention a few harried parents of two year olds screaming because they are hungry only to find out it’s not ready in 3.5 minutes , and the plaintiff might just be rolling in Al dente dough when the motions are over.

Of course the defense is yelling “cheese it “ to the judge. What’s a minute or two worth? Ask a judge who finds that a pleading is late because it was filed two minutes after midnight when it was due.

Anonymous said...

The "ready to be consumed" issue is interesting. Have you ever tried to eat anything liquidy that has been microwaved for 3 1/2 minutes? I think "readiness" depends on your pain tolerance. Should Kraft take that into account? Ready in 4 minutes if you don't mind burning the roof of your mouth. Ready in 5 minutes, but it will be a little uncomfortable. Ready in 6 minutes but getting a little cold. Seems like the Goldilocks principle in action.

Anonymous said...

Plaintiff attorneys are mostly loathsome.

Anonymous said...

The real question is how did it take this long for anyone to act on this?

Where’s the FTC when you really need them?

Anonymous said...

6:08 what's your practice? There's no group of lawyers that's "mostly loathsome." Sure, there are loathsome lawyers, but they are not concentrated in one practice group or another. Be kind.

Anonymous said...

I bought some of that "Kaboom" bathroom cleaner. I sprayed it and no such Kaboom was noted. More of a light fizz. Anticipating said Kaboom, I bought eye protection, ear protection and a bomb unit disposal suit.

Do I get paid now?