A Missouri man has launched a lawsuit against The Hershey Company over “empty space” in his packet of confectionery.
Robert Bratton purchased boxes of Reese’s Pieces and Whoppers at a store in Columbia for $1 each, claiming that he was persuaded to purchase the product based on the size of the box.
The lawsuit was filed under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) which is a law aimed at protecting customers from unfair practices.
US District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued an order that said consumers spend an average of 13 seconds making a purchasing decision.
“The decision is heavily dependent on a product’s packaging, in particular, the package dimensions,” she said.
“When faced with a large box and a smaller box, both containing the same amount of product, a consumer is more likely to choose the larger one, thinking it is a better value.”
The order stated about 29% of each box of Reese’s Pieces was empty space, and about 41% of each box of Whoppers was empty space.
Mr Bratton claimed that he was misled to believe that he was “purchasing more product than was actually received”.
He went on to allege that he “suffered an ascertainable loss as a result of [Hershey’s] unlawful conduct because the actual value of the Products as purchased was less than the value of the Products as represented”.
Hershey’s argued to dismiss the MMPA count on the grounds that Mr Bratton’s allegations in relation to loss were not plausible.
The court disagreed with Hershey’s and concluded that the allegations were sufficient enough to state a claim.
In her ruling, Judge Laughrey said Mr Batton’s allegations were plausible however she deferred her decision on Mr Bratton’s claims for “unjust enrichment on behalf of others”.