In Re Vienna Beef Ltd. Litigation
CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT INFORMATION
Welcome to the website version of the class settlement notice for Curtis et. al. v. Vienna Beef Ltd. case. This notice describes the case and the settlement that has been reached between Plaintiffs and Defendant.
We have tried to design this website notice to help you get information about the proposed settlement of this case. If necessary, however, you can also contact Class Counsel for further information:
Lance A. Raphael
This case is currently pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois as Case No. 07 CH 27980. The judge presiding over the case and considering whether to approve the Settlement is Judge Stuart E. Palmer, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington, Courtroom 2305, Chicago IL 60602.
DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT FOR INFORMATION. DIRECT ANY INQUIRIES TO CLASS COUNSEL.
What is this case about?
The Plaintiffs (persons who claim that, for various reasons, they avoid eating pork) allege that Defendant Vienna Beef Ltd. engaged in misleading advertising and marketing of its “natural casing” products. These products (referred to below as the “Natural Casing Products”) consist of all Vienna Beef Ltd. products that have either pork/hog or sheep casings, including the following: Vienna Beef Natural Casing Jumbo Franks, Vienna Beef Natural Casing Polish Sausage, Vienna Beef Natural Casing Knockwurst, Vienna Beef Frankwurst, and Vienna Beef Natural Casing Franks.
To see a copy of the current class action complaint, click here.
Defendant denies all of the Plaintiffs’ claims of wrongdoing but has agreed to settle all claims against it to avoid the expense of continued legal proceedings.
What are the terms of the Settlement?
Under the Settlement, Defendant has agreed to make changes to how it advertises and markets its Natural Casing Products, as follows:
Vienna Beef Ltd has modified its website so that it now expressly discloses that all Vienna Beef Ltd branded Natural Casing Products have either pork/hog or sheep casings. As an additional benefit to the Settlement Class, Vienna Beef Ltd agrees that for as long as it (1) sells Vienna Beef Ltd branded Natural Casing Products and (2) maintains a website accessible to the public, Vienna Beef Ltd will continue to disclose on its website that Vienna Beef Ltd branded Natural Casing Products have either pork/hog or sheep casings;
For so long as Vienna Beef Ltd. sells Vienna Beef Ltd. branded Natural Casing Products, Vienna Beef Ltd. will not distribute any signage or marketing materials which refer to any of such hot dog or sausage products as “pure beef” or “100% beef;”
With every wholesale box of Vienna Beef Ltd. branded Natural Casing Products that Vienna Beef Ltd. sells during the month of August, 2008, Vienna Beef Ltd. will include an information card (the “Information Card”) suitable for placement or posting by the vendor at or near the ultimate point of sale, that discloses that the casings of Vienna Beef Ltd. branded Natural Casing Products consist of pork/hog or sheep intestine;
On all posters distributed by Vienna Beef Ltd. after the Effective Date which depict any Vienna Beef Ltd. branded Natural Casing Product, including without limitation the current version of the “Classic Polish,” “Hot Dog Classic” and “Chicago’s Hot Dog” posters, Vienna Beef Ltd. shall include the following text: “Our products are not manufactured to comply with any religious dietary restrictions and our natural casing products are manufactured using hog or sheep casings. For more information regarding our products, visit our website at http://www.viennabeef.com;” and
With every wholesale box of Vienna Beef Ltd. branded Natural Casing Products that Vienna Beef Ltd. sells during the month of August, 2008, Vienna Beef Ltd. will include a notice to the vendor (the “Vendor Notice”) suggesting that the vendors (1) make the Information Card available to consumers at or near the point of sale, and (2) take down and discard any old posters or signage which contain the terms “pure beef” or “100% beef.” The Vendor Notice shall also inform the vendor that the revised “Classic Polish,” “Hot Dog Classic” and “Chicago’s Hot Dog” posters referenced in Paragraph 4(d) will be distributed, at Vienna Beef Ltd.’s sole cost and expense, to the vendor upon the vendor’s request and provide a number for the vendor to call to request such posters.
Additionally, under the Settlement, Defendant has agreed to pay each Class Member who submits a timely claim form Three Dollars ($3.00) for each Natural Casing Product consumed and/or purchased by the claiming Class Member since July, 2003 (reduced on a pro rata basis only if the total amount of settlement related payments exceed $300,000). These and all other terms of the Settlement are more fully spelled out in the Settlement Agreement, which you can review by clicking here. Please review the Settlement Agreement carefully, as it may affect your legal rights.
The Court has preliminarily approved a class action settlement of this case. To see a copy of the Preliminary Approval Order, click here. The Court will decide whether to grant final approval of the Settlement at a hearing scheduled to be held on October 10, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Stuart E. Palmer, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington, Courtroom 2305, Chicago IL 60602. To see a copy of the Memorandum click here.
To see an update of our final settlement approval of a class action click here.
Are you a Class Member?
You are a Class Member, and entitled to receive benefits under this Settlement, if you fall within the following class definition:
All consumers residing in the United States (including the District of Columbia, territories and possessions) who have consumed and/or purchased any Vienna Beef Natural Casing Products and a) did not know that the casing on the Natural Casing Product consisted of pork/hog or sheep intestine and b) would not have consumed and/or purchased the National Casing Product if they had known the product’s casing consisted of pork/hog or sheep intestine.
How do you obtain monetary benefits under the Settlement?
If you are a Class Member and if you wish to receive monetary benefits under the Settlement, you must submit a signed, written claim (the “Claim Form”) which contains all of the following required information:
(1) Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if available);
(2) An attestation, made under penalty of perjury, that you purchased or consumed Natural Casing Products not knowing that such products contained a pork/hog or sheep intestine casing, and that you would not have purchased or consumed the Natural Casing Products had you known that they contained a pork/hog or sheep intestine casing;
(3) The total number of Natural Casing Products purchased or consumed within the past five (5) years for which you are seeking compensation (at $3 per unit);
(4) The types of Natural Casing Products you purchased or consumed; and
(5) The approximate date(s) and location(s) of purchase or consumption of the Natural Casing Products for which compensation is sought.
To download a printable copy of the Claim Form, click here. In order for your claim to be valid, you must mail your written, signed Claim Form containing all of this information to First Class, Inc., 5410 W. Roosevelt Road, Unit 222, Chicago, Illinois 60644-1478, Attention: Vienna Beef Litigation, postmarked no later than November 10, 2008. Valid claims will not be paid until after the Court grants final approval to the Settlement.
How to Opt-Out of the Class Action Settlement
If you do not want to participate in the settlement, do not want to be paid from the settlement, and do not want to give up any rights you may have to sue Defendant for the claims alleged in Plaintiffs’ complaint, you must send a signed letter, post-marked by September 18, 2008, to both Lance A. Raphael, The Consumer Advocacy Center, P.C. 180 West Washington, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60602 and Thomas J. Verticchio, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, 330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 3300, Chicago, Illinois 60611, with your name and address stating “I WANT TO BE EXCLUDED FROM THE SETTLEMENT IN THE VIENNA BEEF NATURAL CASING PRODUCTS LITIGATION.” Any such letter must be signed and also contain an attestation under penalty of perjury that you would be a member of the Settlement Class but for exercising your right to opt-out. Please indicate if you have retained counsel to represent you individually in your own lawsuit and their contact information or whether you are merely choosing not to participate in this case.
How to Object to the Settlement
If you do not opt-out of the Settlement, you may object to the Settlement. To object, you must file a written objection that includes (a) proof of your membership in the Settlement Class, and (b) states the specific grounds for the objection you want the Court to consider. If you wish to appear in person instead of submitting only written objections, then you must also file a notice of your intention to appear, by the date specified above. If you are an attorney or you have retained an attorney to represent you, the attorney must also file a memorandum of law of no more than fifteen (15) pages with the objection.
Your objection must be filed with the Court (the Court’s address is Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington, Chicago, Illinois 60602) and also mailed to both Lance A. Raphael, The Consumer Advocacy Center, P.C., 180 West Washington, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60602 and Thomas J. Verticchio, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, 330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 3300, Chicago, Illinois 60611.
All objections must reference Case No. 07 CH 27980 and be filed with the Court by September 18, 2008.