By: Lisa Fickenscher
A Manhattan woman who bought a 3.5-ounce package of Junior Mints felt cheated after claiming to find the candy filled just 57 percent of the box.
But instead of just getting mad, Biola Daniel is trying to get even.
Daniel has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court claiming Tootsie Roll Industries, the maker of Junior Mints, intentionally deceives sweet-tooth shoppers by using the disproportionately-large boxes.
By comparison, Milk Duds, about the same size as a Junior Mint, fill 73 percent of its boxes while Good n Plenty candies fill 88 percent of its boxes, the suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, claims.
The suit is one of a growing number of lawsuits, which some claim are frivolous, aimed at food products and how they are served or marketed.
Earlier this year, a California woman sued Nestle over half-filled Raisinets boxes, seeking $5 million in damages.
Krispy Kreme has been sued because its raspberry-filled donuts don’t contain any real raspberries; a suit was filed against 5-hour energy drinks claiming it didn’t provide five hours of an energy boost and Starbucks was sued over claims its cold drinks were served with too much ice.
The Institute for Legal Reform, which fights frivolous class-action lawsuits, said the number of food related lawsuits filed in federal courts has skyrocketed from 20 in 2008 to 171 last year.
C.K. Lee, the lawyer for Daniel, has a prolific practice suing companies for false advertising or violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. On Thursday, Lee sued the play “Hamilton” for not providing audio descriptions for visually impaired audience members.
The Junior Mints suit — which described the empty space in the box as “slack-fill” — claims that the plaintiff Daniel and others in the class “suffered monetary losses” by purchasing the mints and are entitled damages for their “injuries.”
“These ‘slack-fill’ lawsuits are like junk food — they make lawyers fat and give the rest of our economy a stomach ache,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.