The jingle may be stuck in our heads forever, but the era of $5 Footlongs is gone. Subway has announced that “cost increases” are forcing it to raise the price of its special sandwich deal by a dollar. Could some of these “cost increases” be related to the infamous Footlong lawsuit?
Since 2013, Subway has been fighting a class action lawsuit (filed by a New Jersey resident under our state’s Consumer Fraud Act of course) alleging that its famous $5 Footlongs sometimes measured closer to 11 inches than 12. A settlement was negotiated in 2014 and is now working its way through the court system.
The settlement would give the few named class members $1,000 each, and the attorneys in the case $525,000, but what would it give the rest of the sandwich eating public? Money? Free sandwiches for life? Nope. In exchange for dropping the lawsuit, Subway has promised to do a better job with quality control over the next 4 years to ensure that its sandwiches measure up.
Theodore Frank, the founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness, is objecting to this settlement because it provides no real benefit to the class as a whole, yet the attorneys are handsomely rewarded.
NJCJI agrees with Frank that the courts must step up their gatekeeping role to prevent lawsuits like this – where the supposed class is unwieldly and the settlement a sham – from moving forward. We also think it is time to make some common sense reforms to our state’s Consumer Fraud Act so that consumers, not attorneys, are the real beneficiaries of lawsuits brought in the name of consumer protection.