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Only in America

Subway settles lawsuit over foot-long sandwiches that measure less than 12 inches

Bring your rulers to lunch.

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SANDWICH GIANT SUBWAY has agreed to settle a potentially enormous class action lawsuit over its “foot-long” sandwiches, which don’t always measure exactly one foot.

In 2013, nine separate lawsuits were consolidated into a case before the US District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The suit accused Subway of:

[A] pervasive pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise improper advertising, sales and marketing practices that Defendant…engaged in and continues to engage in regarding the length of purported “Footlong” submarine sandwiches (“subs”), which are a core product sold by Defendant’s SUBWAY® restaurants.
In reality, Defendant’s “Footlong” subs are not one foot, or 12 inches, in length.

The lawsuit claimed Subway restaurants had been:

…disseminating false and misleading information via television commercials, Internet websites and postings, point of purchase advertisements and national print advertisements, all of which are intended to trick unsuspecting consumers, including Plaintiffs and other members of the proposed Class, into believing that they are receiving more food for their money than they actually are receiving.

Subway, which has 151 outlets in Ireland, had argued that inconsistencies in baking its rolls occasionally led to a variety of lengths, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

However, a mediation process involving a retired US Magistrate Judge brought both sides to an agreement earlier this month, after more than two years of wrangling.

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Subway will make changes to how it bakes its bread and has agreed to “use a tool for measuring bread…to help ensure that the bread sold to customers is either 6 or 12 inches long.”

The company will also do monthly compliance checks in its 24,000 US outlets, involving samples of 10 rolls each time, to include “both the Italian and 9-Grain Wheat loaves.”

In response to the settlement, Subway’s franchisor, Doctor’s Associates Inc. (DAI) released a statement noting that:

The Court has not made any findings that any of DAI’s marketing or practices were improper or unlawful.

The company has also agreed to pay lawyers’ fees and damages to nine named people.

After fees are paid, the Associated Press estimates those who started the lawsuit in the first place will receive no more than $1,000 each.

In addition to the original nine plaintiffs, however, the class action is being opened to:

All persons in the United States who purchased a Six inch or Footlong sandwich at a Subway® restaurant any time between January 1, 2003 and [2 October, 2015].

Which, as presiding Judge Lynn Adelman notes, amounts to “a sizeable portion of the American population.”

These people will, obviously, have to present proof of purchase, and they will not be eligible for any compensation.

They will just have their names formally attached to the lawsuit, if they apply by 15 December.

Read: Subway sandwich scandal inches into court>

Read: Subway sandwiches are about to get a lot more natural>

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