MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the Minneapolis-based company of falsely advertising the digestive health benefits of its Yo-Plus probiotic yogurt. General Mills no longer sells Yo-Plus.
The class action complaint alleged General Mills had no scientific support for Yo-Plus digestive health advertising claims and that alleged misleading advertising messages allowed General Mills to charge up to a 44% price premium for Yo-Plus over Yoplait Original brand yogurt.
As part of the settlement, consumers who purchased Yo-Plus in the United States between July 26, 2007, and July 5, 2012, will be entitled to $4 each for each unit they purchased, up to 13 units. Any unclaimed funds from the $8.5 million class action lawsuit settlement will be distributed to the National Consumer Law Center and the Mayo Clinic, which will support Mayo’s nationwide public education efforts around nutrition and gastrointestinal health.
“Considering the strengths and weakness of this case, including the amount of potential damages available to the class after trial here and in other jurisdictions around the United States, the settlement represents an excellent result and includes relief for purchasers of YoPlus on a nationwide basis,” the plaintiffs said in a motion to approve the settlement. “Had the plaintiffs in the various jurisdictions tried these cases to obtain results nationwide, the damages could have been about $35 million based on one viable measure of relief.”
The plaintiffs noted in the motion that some consumers would receive more in return than they initially paid for the yogurt under the proposed class action settlement agreement.
Responding to the settlement, General Mills said, “We stand behind our products and the accuracy of our label – and we disagreed with plaintiffs on the merit of this case. But we agreed to resolve the matter to avoid further litigation.”