A California federal court has postponed issuing a final dismissal order in Safeway Inc.’s proposed settlement with a putative class, ordering the parties to develop a plan for publicizing the settlement to alert other potential plaintiffs that the statute of limitations will begin to run. In re Safeway Tuna Cases, No. 15­-5078 (N.D. Cal., order entered March 13, 2017).

The class action, involving allegations of underfilled cans of tuna sold in Safeway grocery stores and those of its subsidiary Vons, received significant media coverage in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The court said it “is concerned that potential class members who may have seen such coverage would now be unaware that the case has been dismissed, and that the limitations period for filing a further suit therefore may run upon dismissal.” The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the filing of a class action lawsuit in federal court tolls the statute of limitations for the claims of unnamed class members. The Safeway Tuna stipulation would dismiss only the named plaintiffs with prejudice, leaving unnamed plaintiffs free to file future suits before the statute of limitations expires. Although the settlement itself must be publicized, the terms of the settlement will not be disclosed.


Issue 628

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.