Costco Coconut Oil Settlement

James Boswell et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp. et al.
United States District Court, Central District of California Case No: 8:16-CV-00278-DOC

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the background on the lawsuit and Settlement?

    The lawsuit seeks to obtain compensation for violation of California consumer protection statutes including the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), False Advertising Law (FAL), and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), and for Breach of Express and Implied Warranties.

    After the parties engaged in substantial investigation, discovery, and settlement negotiations, plaintiffs and defendants have reached an agreement providing for the settlement of the lawsuit. The terms of the proposed Settlement are set forth in the Settlement Agreement filed with the Court, which is also available online, at KirklandCoconutOilSettlement.com. The proposed Settlement Class covers the time period of March 1, 2014 to the date this notice was issued.

    Plaintiffs and Class Counsel have evaluated the information made available in the course of the lawsuit and have taken into account the risks and uncertainties of proceeding with this litigation, including the risks and uncertainties of class certification, prevailing on the merits, proving damages at trial, and prevailing on post-trial motions and appeal. Based upon their consideration of these factors, plaintiffs and Class Counsel believe it is in the best interests of the Class to settle the lawsuit on the terms described below.

    Costco denies plaintiffs’ allegations and any wrongdoing, and the Class’s right to recover anything. Nevertheless, it has agreed to settle the lawsuit for the purpose of avoiding the time and expense of further litigation.

  2. What are the terms of the proposed Settlement?
    • The two sides disagree whether Costco has done anything wrong, and what relief, and how much, could have been won, if any, if the Class won at trial. The settlement avoids costs and risks to you from continuing the lawsuit, provides relief to affected persons like you, and releases Costco and others from liability for the related claims.
    • The proposed class action settlement will provide the Class with $775,000 of monetary relief to pay all aspects of Settlement (the “Common Fund”), including Class Member claims, notice, administration, plaintiffs’ service awards, legal expenses, and attorneys’ fees. Costco has also agreed to remove the terms “healthy” and “healthful” from the label of Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and to refrain in the future from using variations of the word “healthy” on the label, absent a change in the law permitting the use.
    • Class Members who purchased 42.3-fluid-ounce jars of Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for personal or household use directly from Costco and were members of Costco at the time of purchase can make a claim, by providing their contact information and Costco membership number, which will be compared to Costco’s own sales records to determine the number of units of Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil the Class Member purchased during the relevant time period (less returns). Costco members therefore need not and should not seek out or submit proof of purchase or other records from Costco directly.
    • Class Members who purchased 42.3-fluid-ounce jars of Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for personal or household use from a source other than Costco (such as a reseller on Amazon or Ebay) can make a claim by providing proof of purchase showing, at a minimum, the purchase of the Product, the purchase price, and the date and place of the purchase.
    • The amount of the Common Fund remaining once all Settlement expenses other than Class Member claims are deducted, will be divided by the total number of units claimed, to determine a standard per-unit reimbursement amount. Class Members will then be reimbursed that amount for each unit claimed, up to 5 units.
    • Class Counsel will petition the Court for a fee award in an amount no greater than 25% of the common fund ($193,750) plus costs ($18,415) and a combined incentive payment of no more than $4,000 to the three Class Representatives. In the event that notice and administration costs exceed $400,000 by any amount (the “Overage”), Plaintiffs’ counsel have agreed to reduce their fee request by the Overage (e.g., if the actual notice and administration costs are $420,000, then Plaintiffs’ counsel will reduce their maximum fee request by $20,000, to $173,750). Thus, it is possible to project the amount of the Common Fund available to compensate Class Member claims, and to project the per-unit reimbursement amount Class Members might expect to receive, if any, depending on the percentage of Class Members who make claims.
    2% 5% 10%
    Common Fund $775,000
    Notice & Administration ($374,000) ($400,000) ($450,000)
    Maximum Incentive Awards ($4,000)
    Maximum Attorney Fees & Costs ($212,165) ($212,165) ($162,165)
    Remainder (Claim Funds) $184,835 $158,835 $158,835

    Given this amount of Claim Funds, Class Members who make claims can expect the following amount of reimbursement for each unit purchased (up to a maximum of five (5) units), if 2%, 5%, or 10% of the Class makes a claim.

    2% 5% 10%
    Units Claimed (out of 2.8M units sold) 56,000 140,000 280,000
    Per-Unit Reimbursement Amount $3.30 $1.13 $0.57
  3. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement Class?

    The Court has certified a Settlement Class consisting of:

    All persons in the United States who purchased, for personal or household use Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in 42.3-ounce jars.

    This product was available for sale at Costco, in a single unit containing two jars, from approximately March 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016, but the Settlement Class covers the time period from March 1, 2014 to the date this notice was issued, as some jars may have been re-sold after June 2016.

  4. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    The Court has appointed The Law Office of Jack Fitzgerald, PC and The Law Office of Paul K. Joseph, PC, as Class Counsel in this case. The Court has determined that Class Counsel are qualified to represent you and all other Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. The lawyers handling the case are experienced in handling similar cases.

    Nevertheless, you have the right to consult or retain an attorney of your choice at your own expense to advise you regarding the Settlement and your rights in connection with the Settlement and Final Approval Hearing described below.

  5. How can I submit a claim?

    You must submit a Claim Form to get a monetary payment. Claim Forms are simple and easy to complete, requiring (a) personal/contact information, (b) your Costco membership number or, if you were a non-member at the time of purchase and/or didn’t purchase the Product from Costco, proof of purchase (The proof of purchase must show the purchase price, the date and place of the purchase, and the number of jars purchased), and (c) your affirmation that you purchased the Product for a personal or household use and the information provided is true and correct. Class members who were Costco members at the time of purchase and bought the Product directly from Costco on their membership do not need to and should not submit proof of purchase, because Costco has a record of each qualifying purchase that its members made at its stores. In exchange for receiving a monetary payment, under the Settlement Agreement, you will give up your rights to sue Costco about the claims in this lawsuit, as explained in greater detail herein.

    Claim forms must be postmarked or submitted online no later than October 30, 2017.

  6. How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?

    If you do not want to be bound by this settlement, you must request to be excluded from the Class. If you request to be excluded from the Class, you will retain any individual rights you have against Costco and will not have “released” it from any claims. However, you will not receive the compensation described above. You may not object to the Settlement under this option. If you wish to be excluded from the Class (also referred to as “opting out”), you must download and print an Opt-Out Form, fill out and sign the form, and mail it to the class action administrator, postmarked on or before October 30, 2017 at the following address:

    Kirkland Signature Coconut Oil Settlement
    c/o Dahl Administration
    P.O. Box 3614
    Minneapolis, MN 55403-0614

  7. How do I object to this Settlement?

    If you want to express an objection to part or all of the Settlement, you may appear at the Final Approval Hearing and/or object to the proposed Settlement. If the Settlement is approved, you will still receive the Settlement compensation and be bound by the Settlement Release.

    If you wish to object, you must, no later than November 13, 2017, electronically file via the Court’s ECF system, or deliver to the Clerk of the Court by mail, express mail, or personal delivery, a written objection. The objection must contain (a) a caption or title clearly identifying the action, and that the document is an objection, (b) information sufficient to identify and contact the objecting Class Member or his or her attorney, and (c) a clear and concise statement of the Class Member’s objection, as well as any facts and law supporting the objection.

    If you wish to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, you should, no later than November 13, 2017, file with the Court and serve on Class Counsel and Defense Counsel at the addresses set forth below, a Notice of Intent to Appear, either in person or through an attorney.

    Please also review the Court’s Preliminary Approval Order and other orders, which are available on the Settlement Documents page.

    Class Counsel
    Jack Fitzgerald, Esq.
    The Law Office of Jack Fitzgerald, PC
    3636 4th Ave., Ste. 202
    San Diego, CA 92103
    Telephone: (619) 692-3840

    Paul K. Joseph, Esq.
    The Law Office of Paul K. Joseph, PC
    4125 W. Pt. Loma Blvd., No. 206
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Telephone: (619) 767-0356
    Defense Counsel
    Frank J. Broccolo, Esq.
    Law Office of Frank J. Broccolo
    7083 Hollywood Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    Telephone: (310) 694-1795

    Anthony B. Gordon, Esq.
    Gordon and Gordon,A Professional Law Corporation
    5550 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Suite 200
    Woodland Hills, California 91367
    Telephone: (818) 887-5155

    Baxter Banowsky, Esq.
    Banowsky & Levine, P.C.
    12801N. Central Expressway, Suite 1700
    Dallas, Texas 75243
    Telephone: (214) 871-1300
  8. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    If you do nothing, you will get no money from the Settlement. But, unless you exclude yourself, you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit or be part of any other lawsuit against Costco about the claims in this case.

  9. What am I giving up if I do not exclude myself from the Settlement?

    If the Court approves the Settlement and you have not excluded yourself as described above, you will be bound by the Settlement and will be forever barred from suing Costco and related entities for the claims released in the Settlement. This applies whether you currently know about the existence of such claims or not.

    Here, the claims you will give up are:

    any and all claims, liens, demands, actions, causes of action, rights, duties, obligations, damages or liabilities of any nature whatsoever, whether legal or equitable or otherwise, known or unknown, whether arising under any international, federal, state or local statute, ordinance, common law, regulation, principle of equity or otherwise, that arise out of or relate to the Allegations and were, or could have been, asserted in the Litigation.

    In addition, Each Settlement Class Member shall be deemed to have waived and relinquished, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the provisions, rights and benefits of California Civil Code section 1542 (and equivalent, comparable, or analogous provisions of the laws of the United States or any state or territory thereof, or of the common law). Section 1542 provides:

    “A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him or her must have materially affected his settlement with the debtor.”

  10. How and when will the Court decide whether to provide final approval of the Settlement?

    The Court has scheduled a Final Approval Hearing (also referred to as a “Fairness Hearing”) to determine whether the Court should approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate to the Class, and whether Judgment should be entered in accordance with the Settlement Agreement. The Court will also consider at the Final Approval Hearing the request of Class Counsel for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses, as well as the request of the Class Representatives for incentive awards for services rendered on behalf of the Class.

    The Final Approval Hearing will occur at December 4, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 9D of the Ronald Regan Federal Building & Courthouse, 411 West Fourth Street, Santa Ana, California .

    The Court might change the date of this hearing. If the Court does so, its order changing the date will be posted this website, but it will not be sent to you.

    Your attendance at the Final Approval Hearing is not required. However, you may be heard orally at the hearing in opposition to the proposed Settlement if you wish. You may also enter an appearance through an attorney retained at your own expense. If you do not enter an appearance through an attorney, and do not object, Class Counsel will represent you at the hearing.

  11. Where can I get more information?

    For more details of the matters involved in this lawsuit and the Settlement, you may review the Settlement Agreement and related pleadings on this website and/or as set forth below.

    In addition to reviewing this website, you can contact Dahl Administration at 1-866-875-7574, or contact Class Counsel at (619) 692-3840.

    If you wish to review the Court’s docket in this case, you may do so at www.pacer.gov, the Court’s public access website.

    DO NOT TELEPHONE OR ADDRESS ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CASE OR SETTLEMENT TO THE CLERK OF THE COURT OR TO THE JUDGE. THEY ARE NOT PERMITTED TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS. THE COURT EXPRESSES NO VIEW AS TO THE MERITS OF ANY CLAIMS OR DEFENSES ASSERTED BY ANY PARTY TO THE ACTION.