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Walmart $45 Million Settlement – Do They Owe You?

Walmart has consented to a $45 million class-action settlement, offering up to $500 in compensation to affected customers for allegations of overcharging.

This Walmart settlement, pending final court approval in Florida, targets purchases of specific meat, seafood, and bagged citrus products at Walmart locations in the U.S. or Puerto Rico from October 19, 2018, to January 19, 2024.

What the Lawsuit Is About?

The lawsuit, initiated by a Tampa resident accuses Walmart of deceptive practices like overstating product weights and mispricing items, leading to unjust profit at the expense of consumers.

The lawsuit against Walmart alleges a scheme involving deceptive practices to overcharge customers for certain products, specifically weighted goods and bagged produce, as well as items marked for clearance.

The legal action seeks not only financial compensation for the affected customers but also injunctive relief to stop these practices and prevent them from occurring in the future. It reflects a broader challenge against corporate practices that exploit consumer trust and emphasizes the need for transparency and honesty in retail operations. See a copy of the actual class action complaint: Walmart Class Action Lawsuit Complaint

What Was Walmart Doing?

We see price tags and weight labels, which we trustingly accept at face value. The carry with them an implicit promise of honesty—a promise that this lawsuit says was broken. Here is what Walmart allegedly did:

Falsely Inflating Product Weights

It’s claimed that Walmart artificially increases the weight of products that are sold by weight (such as meats and seafood) at the point of sale. This means that even though a product may be advertised at a certain price per pound, the weight recorded at checkout is higher than the actual weight of the product, leading customers to pay more than the advertised price.

Mislabeling Weight of Bagged Produce

The lawsuit alleges that Walmart misrepresents the weight of bagged produce, such as oranges or potatoes, on price stickers. The weight stated on the sticker is more than what is actually in the bag, causing customers to pay a higher price per ounce or per pound than what is advertised.

Overcharging for Clearance Items

Walmart is accused of advertising clearance items at a reduced price on yellow stickers but then charging customers a higher price at checkout. This practice not only misleads customers into thinking they are getting a better deal than they actually are but also results in customers paying more than the advertised clearance price.

To be clear, these accusations are not that Walmart made a mistake. Instead, they are that these practices are part of a deliberate strategy by Walmart to increase its profits at the expense of consumers. The lawsuit claims this conduct is deceptive, misleading, and unjust, leading to customers being overcharged for products under the pretense of getting them at a lower cost.

So the lawsuit is saying that the frequency and consistent pattern of the alleged falsification practices indicate they are part of a programmed fraudulent scheme, rather than accidental errors. It implies that these practices are embedded in Walmart’s point of sale (POS) systems, suggesting a level of premeditation and corporate endorsement. The complaint asserts that Walmart is aware of the importance of accurate pricing and the potential for misleading customers through pricing practices. Despite this awareness, Walmart allegedly continued these practices knowingly and willfully, disregarding the rights and welfare of the consumers.

The Walmart Settlement

Despite denying any wrongdoing, Walmart opted for a settlement to mitigate the risks and costs of ongoing litigation. Of course, the lawyers want to get paid, too.  Eligible customers who bought certain citrus fruits and “weighted goods” within the specified period must submit a claim by June 5 to qualify for compensation, with or without purchase receipts. The final compensation amount may vary based on total claims. The settlement’s validation is pending a final court hearing scheduled for June 12, 2024. However, there is a possibility some plaintiffs will object to the settlement as simply not enough money.

Key Settlement Dates

May 22, 2024: Deadline to Opt-Out of the Settlement (by postmark)

May 22, 2024: Deadline to File an Objection or Comment on the Settlement (by postmark)

June 5, 2024: Deadline to Submit Your Claim (by postmark)

June 12, 2024, at 10:00 AM ET: Date and Time of the Final Approval Hearing

Your Options

You have four options based on the settlement notice:

Submit a Claim: To be eligible for a cash payment from the settlement, affected individuals must submit a claim form by June 5, 2024. This can be done online, or a paper form can be requested from the Claims Administrator and mailed in. Importantly, no documentation is required to submit a claim, meaning individuals can claim compensation even without receipts.

Exclude Yourself from the Settlement (Opt-Out): Individuals have the option to exclude themselves from the settlement by May 22, 2024. This option, also known as “opting out,” means they will not receive any payment from this settlement but retain the right to sue Walmart independently over the same issues addressed in the settlement.

Object to the Settlement: If individuals do not opt-out, they still have the right to object to the settlement. By submitting an objection by May 22, 2024, they can express their concerns or disagreement with the settlement terms to the court. They may also request permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing about their objection. It’s notable that individuals who object may still file a claim for payment.

Do Nothing: If affected individuals choose not to take any action, they automatically become part of the settlement. However, they will not receive any payment and will give up their rights to sue Walmart over the issues resolved by this settlement in the future.