Free Minds & Free Markets

Frivolous Food Lawsuits Draw Judges’ Ire: New at Reason

Lawyers abuse class-action opportunities to try to cash in for absurd reasons.

bag of chipsRobert Byron / Dreamstime.comLast week, a federal court in Chicago dismissed a class-action lawsuit against local candy maker Fannie May. The suit alleged Fannie May had sold boxes of candies that just weren't full enough, and that the candy maker had underfilled the larger boxes "to trick potential consumers into believing they were receiving more candy than they really were."

The plaintiffs, Judge Sara Ellis of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois wrote in her decision dismissing the case, "were saddened to discover upon opening their boxes of Mint Meltaways and Pixies that the boxes were not brimming with delectable goodies. Rather, the boxes were filled merely two-thirds of the way to their brims, leaving [the plaintiffs] twenty-four-cubic-inches or more short of satisfaction."

Anyone who's ever opened a bag of chips to find far more oddly chip-scented air than actual chips has experienced the shortness of satisfaction of which Judge Ellis writes. The phenomenon even has a name: "slack fill." Food policy expert Baylen Linnekin explains why these lawsuits are a problem.

Photo Credit: Robert Byron /


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