Approval of a class action settlement in a case of alleged false advertising of weight loss products is reversed in this case because the claim form, which was an integral part of the class notice, had not been revised to match revisions in the settlement agreement as finally approved by the court and so misinformed class members as to key aspects of the settlement. The claim form said class members would get a full refund of all products bought during the class period, whereas the settlement provided for a refund of 200% of the purchase price of the first purchase during the class period. The claim form also promised payment for one product not included in the settlement and contained a Civ. Code 1542 release which had been stricken from the settlement agreement at the trial court’s insistence. These errors might have affected the number of objections to the settlement and the trial court’s evaluation of the amount offered in settlement. So the approval order had to be reversed. On remand, the defendants would also have to better justify their failure to give mailed notice to class members whose addresses might be available through an affiliate of one of the defendants. Also, publication notice through USA Today was inadequate. Though that paper had a big audience, objectors showed that it reached less than 10% of the class members, whereas other publications might better reach persons interested in weight loss products. Finally, the injunctive relief included in the settlement was not significant, contrary to the trial court’s conclusion, because it mostly replicated relief already granted by an FTC consent order.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (Nares, J.); June 23, 2016 (published July 15, 2016); 2016 WL 3913205