Dakota Growers agrees to settle Dreamfields lawsuit

by Eric Schroeder
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CAMDEN, N.J. — The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on May 9 granted conditional approval to a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit against Dakota Growers Pasta Co. for what plaintiffs claimed was deceptive labeling of the Carrington, N.D.-based company’s Dreamfields Pasta as low in carbohydrates. Under the proposed settlement, Dakota Growers will establish a $5 million settlement fund for consumers who purchased the product and will remove the claim from its packaging.

The court will make a final ruling on the settlement at a hearing on Sept. 24.

Lead plaintiffs Joseph Mirakay, Louis Messina, Michael Elefterakis, and John Gembinski filed the lawsuit in July 2013. The plaintiffs alleged that certain representations made in the advertising for and packaging of the covered products regarding the pasta’s low glycemic index and low digestible carbohydrates were not scientifically supported and were misleading.

The proposed settlement will provide $5 million in refunds to settlement class members who purchased Dreamfields pasta since 2004. The settlement is capped at $5 million, and any remaining money that is not claimed will be awarded to the American Diabetes Association.

Dakota Growers Pasta has denied any wrongdoing.

“The court has not decided in favor of either side in the case,” the lawsuit said. “Dakota Growers denies all allegations of wrongdoing or liability, contends that its conduct was lawful, and is agreeing to settle to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and inherent risk of litigation. Plaintiffs and their attorneys agree that the settlement is in the best interests of the settlement class because it provides substantial monetary relief and meaningful label changes now while avoiding the risk, expense, and delay of pursuing the case through trial and any appeals.”
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