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Walmart Settles Class Action Lawsuit Alleging It Inflated Item Weights to Charge Customers More

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Walmart Settles Class Action Lawsuit Alleging It Inflated Item Weights to Charge Customers More

Walmart Settles Class Action Lawsuit Alleging It Inflated Item Weights to Charge Customers More

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Walmart recently settled a class action lawsuit for $45 million filed by customers in October 2022. According to the lawsuit, Walmart had been doing several shady things, including inflating the weight of products, mislabeling bagged produce, and overcharging for clearance items.

As part of the settlement, customers who purchased eligible “sold by weight” groceries for nearly four years can receive a settlement payment as long as they opt-in before June 5, 2024.

The Lawsuit Complaint

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The class action lawsuit was filed in the Middle District Court of Florida. It alleges Walmart has been misleading and deceiving customers and has been benefiting from this. Vassilios Kukorinis was the plaintiff. “Walmart uses unfair and deceptive business practices to deceivingly, misleadingly, and unjustly pilfer, to Walmart’s financial benefit, its customers’ hard-earned grocery dollars,” the lawsuit complaint alleges.

More About the Weighted Items

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The lawsuit against Walmart, Kukorinis v. Walmart Inc., alleged that Walmart’s point-of-sale machines artificially inflated the weight of certain goods like fruit, vegetables, pork, seafood, and poultry when they were marked at a “Rollback” discounted price. This artificial price adjustment would cause the total cost to be higher than the item’s advertised price.

Paying More Per Ounce

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According to this lawsuit, Walmart advertised and promoted bagged produce weights that exceeded the product’s actual weight. This meant customers were paying more per ounce than they thought they would based on price advertisements. This also affected weighted products in Walmart’s clearance selection. Ones with a reduced-price sticker were allegedly different from what customers paid.

On Price Leadership

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One crucial argument the lawsuit makes is that Walmart is a dominant force in the United States grocery industry and that the allegations are a betrayal of its stated principles.
“Walmart, which dominates the United States market for grocery sales, touts that it “helps people around the world save money and live better” by servicing approximately 230 million customers a week worldwide. Walmart publicly represents that “a cornerstone of our business” is “our commitment to price leadership,” and “[b]y leading on price, we earn the trust of our customers every day by providing a broad assortment of quality merchandise…at everyday low prices,” the lawsuit says.

Walmart Employees Worried About Losing Their Jobs

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Another claim in the lawsuit is that when Walmart employees were confronted with product overcharges, they allegedly told people they could not make any connections and were afraid of losing their jobs. Some employees even allegedly acknowledged improper pricing they had observed in the past but could not explain when asked.

Violating State Laws

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The complaint alleges that Walmart’s actions were “immoral, unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous activities that are and were substantially injurious to Customers.” The lawsuit alleges Walmart has violated specific consumer protection laws in many states, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Vermont, and more.

Walmart Denies Wrongdoing

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Despite the available evidence, Walmart has denied any of the alleged wrongdoing described in the lawsuit. According to the company, it only agreed to the lawsuit settlement to avoid the case going to a trial. This is typical for civil trials, where an overwhelming number are resolved outside a trial room. 

Understanding a Class Action Lawsuit?

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A class action lawsuit is a specific type of legal suit that allows a plaintiff to reference damage claims on behalf of an identifiable group of people with a common denominator. In this case, the lawsuit represents affected Walmart customers who were allegedly overcharged for items purchased at stores.

Who Can Claim Settlement Cash?

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According to the class action settlement website, many in the United States and Puerto Rico may qualify to join the class in the lawsuit for a cash payment. “All Persons 1 who Purchased Weighted Goods and/or Bagged Citrus in-person at a Walmart retail store, supercenter, or neighborhood market in the United States or Puerto Rico (“Walmart Store”) from October 19, 2018, through and including January 19, 2024 (the “Settlement Class Period”). You may be eligible for a cash payment from a class action settlement,” the website says.

To Claim the Cash

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If you’re certain you were overcharged on pay-by-weight items from Walmart, you can submit a claim form on the website. According to the settlement website, no documentation is required to receive the cash payment, and people can submit a claim even if they no longer have receipts. The claim will continue until June 5, 2024. 

The Settlement Approval

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Although both parties have agreed to the settlement, it has to be accepted by the courts first. Customers have until May 22, 2024, to object, comment, or exclude themselves from the settlement. Walmart customers could be eligible to receive 2% of the total cost of affected goods, up to a $500 cap. The final approval hearing for the lawsuit settlement will happen on June 12, 2024.