Walmart Settles Class Action Lawsuit for $45 Million That Alleges It Inflated Item Weights to Charge Customers More

By: Alex Trent | Published: Apr 17, 2024

American retail superstore Walmart recently settled a class action lawsuit for $45 million filed on behalf of customers back in October 2022. The lawsuit alleged that Walmart had been falsely inflating the weight of products, mislabeling bagged produce, and overcharging for clearance items.

As part of the lawsuit settlement, customers who bought eligible “sold by weight” groceries during a nearly four-year time period have the opportunity to receive a settlement payment if they opt in before June 5, 2024.

Lawsuit Complaint

The lawsuit, filed in the Middle District Court of Florida, alleges Walmart has been misleading and deceiving customers for its own benefit. The lawsuit is a class action suit with Vassilios Kukorinis acting as the plaintiff.

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“Walmart uses unfair and deceptive business practices to deceivingly, misleadingly, and unjustly pilfer, to Walmart’s financial benefit, its customers’ hard-earned grocery dollars,” the lawsuit complaint says.

Weighted Items

The lawsuit against Walmart, called Kukorinis v. Walmart Inc., alleged that Walmart’s point-of-sale machines would artificially raise the weight of certain goods like fruit, vegetables, pork, seafood, and poultry when they were marked at a “Rollback” discounted price.

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A row of assorted fruits and vegetables in a Walmart store aisle.

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This artificial price adjustment would have the effect of causing the total price to be higher than the advertised price of the item.

Paying More Per Ounce

This lawsuit also alleged that Walmart was engaged in a practice of advertising and promoting bagged produce weights that exceeded the product’s actual weight. This would cause customers to be paying more per ounce than they think they would based on price advertisements.

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This also affected weighted products in Walmart’s clearance selection, ones that had a reduced-price sticker were alleged to be different than what customers actually paid.

Price Leadership

Part of the lawsuit’s argument is that Walmart is a dominant force in the United States grocery industry and that the allegations are a betrayal of its stated principles.

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“Walmart, which dominates the United States market for grocery sales, touts that it “helps people around the world save money and live better” by servicing approximately 230 million customers a week worldwide. Walmart publicly represents that “a cornerstone of our business” is “our commitment to price leadership”, and “[b]y leading on price, we earn the trust of our customers every day by providing a broad assortment of quality merchandise…at everyday low prices,” the lawsuit says.

Walmart Employees Feared Losing Their Jobs

Another claim brought forth by the lawsuit is that when Walmart employees were confronted with product overcharges they allegedly told people that they could not correct the prices and were afraid of losing their jobs.

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Some employees were alleged to have acknowledged improper pricing they have observed in the past, and when asked for an explanation could not provide one.

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Running Afoul of State Laws

The complaint alleges that Walmart’s practices were “immoral, unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous activities that are and were substantially injurious to Customers.”

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As part of the lawsuit’s argument, it alleges Walmart has violated specific consumer protection laws in many states including California, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Vermont, and more.

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Walmart Denies Wrongdoing

According to NBC, Walmart has denied any of the alleged wrongdoing described in the lawsuit. The company says that it agreed to the lawsuit settlement to avoid the case going to a trial.

An overhead shot of a Walmart store.

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This is typical for civil trials, which an overwhelming number are resolved outside of a trial room. According to Judicature, less than 1 percent of all civil cases filed in state court are resolved by a jury.

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What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is a particular type of legal suit that allows a plaintiff to bring forth damage claims on behalf of an identifiable group of people who share some commonality and have experienced a similar loss.

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In this case, the lawsuit represents affected Walmart customers who were allegedly overcharged for items purchased at the retail giant’s stores.

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Some Customers Can Claim Settlement Cash

According to the class action settlement website, many people in the United States and Puerto Rico may qualify to join the class in the lawsuit for a cash payment.

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“All Persons 1 who Purchased Weighted Goods and/or Bagged Citrus in-person at a Walmart retail store, supercenter, or neighborhood market in the United States or Puerto Rico (“Walmart Store”) from October 19, 2018 through and including January 19, 2024 (the “Settlement Class Period”). You may be eligible for a cash payment from a class action settlement,” the website says.

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Claiming Cash

If you think you were overcharged on pay-by-weight items from Walmart you can submit a claim form on the website. The settlement website says that no documentation is required to receive a cash payment and that people can even submit a claim if they no longer have receipts.

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However, there is a deadline of June 5, 2024, to submit a claim online or by mail.

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Settlement Approval

Although the settlement has been agreed to by both parties, it has to be accepted by the courts first. Customers have until May 22, 2024, to object, comment, or exclude themselves from the settlement.

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Walmart customers could be eligible to receive 2% of the total cost of affected goods, up to a $500 cap. The final approval hearing for the lawsuit settlement has been set for June 12, 2024.

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