Subway Lawsuit: Like Football, It’s A Game of Inches.

As we’ve noted in the past (see, e.g., the Fruit Rollups Lawsuit), there’s seems to be a whole niche of the law now devoted to lawsuits over false claims and advertising relating to food.  Well add a couple more lawsuits to the list.  Lawsuits in New Jersey and Illinois are now challenging Subway’s “footlong” sandwich claims.   Plaintiffs have alleged that the Subway “footlong” sandwiches they purchased really measured in at just under 12 inches, and for that egregious injury, they have chosen to go to court.  Oh, the humanity!

Nguyen Buren, the Plaintiff in the Illinois lawsuit, alleges that he visited a Subway location in mid-January of this year and purchased a “footlong” sub sandwich that measured only 11 inches.  Notably, Mr. Buren’s complaint (which is on available on PACER – Buren v. Doctor’s Assocs., Inc., No. 13-498 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., filed January 22, 2013)) alleges that he was deceived on that single occasion in January.  He filed the suit against Subway’s parent company, claiming a “pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise improper advertising, sales and marketing practices.”

Mr. Buren’s attorney equated the injury to buying a dozen donuts and finding only 11.  But that’s not quite the case.  The number of donuts is different from the size of the donuts.   As a recent Forbes article noted, baking bread is not an exact science.  As bread is baked, it rises and grows, but the growth is not  the same on every occasion.  The way bread dough grows depends on a number of factors, such as temperature, humidity, and cooking time.  Remember that we are talking about bread, not airplane parts.

You know what I’d do if I ordered a dozen donuts and got 11 donuts, or ordered a footlong sandwich and got 11 inches ?  I would go back and ask for a refund or a remedy of the situation.  Alternatively, I might stop eating at that establishment.   You’re buying a meal, not a compact car.  There’s no indication that Mr. Buren ever asked Subway to remedy his sandwich or asked for a refund.  But why go to such extremes when you can simply file a lawsuit over a sandwich short by one inch?

Given the obesity problem in this country, Subway would probably be doing us all a favor by giving us a little less sandwich.  I mean, who really needs a to be eating a foot long sandwich?   Nevertheless, Subway has pledged to remedy the situation.   According to a spokesperson, Subway will “redouble [its] effort to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich [it] serves.”  Next time you go to Subway, just remember to take your tape measure to be sure.  Good grief.

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