New Jersey men sue Subway over short subs

Lia Grainger
Shine On

Remember last week when an Australian Subway patron posted a photo of his Footlong sub next to a ruler, revealing that it was only 11-inches long?

It didn’t take long for pretty much the entire world of Subway eaters to whip out their rulers and discover that, low and behold, a lot of Subway sandwiches fall shy of the 12-inch mark.

But while most customers expressed their outrage by making jokes, two men from New Jersey are lawyering up and have filed a class action law suit against Subway for selling them a product that was not as large as advertised.

Also see: Subway foot-long sandwiches one inch short; Facebook fans angry

John Farley and Charles Noah Pendrack approached lawyer Stephen DeNittis after reading about the short sandwiches, reports the Associated Press. DeNittis went out and measured sandwiches from 17 shops and says every single one was less than a foot long.

“Can you bring a case like this? Sure. Is it likely to go to trial? No,” says Toronto class action lawyer Matt Baer.

Baer says cases like this will sometimes settle just to make the bad publicity go away.

“You’re not going to give everyone back their few cents,” says Baer. “Cases like this are often settled with some sort of coupons, or they might arrange for days when they give away free subs.

The suit asks for compensatory damages and a change in the chains’ policies, so that sandwiches are either are a full foot long or are not advertised as such.

TODAY reports the men seek to regain losses of 5 to 8.3 per cent on sandwich purchases. They’re asking for triple damages, which works out to about $1.23-$1.62 per sub. The class action law suit is for anyone in New Jersey who bought a footlong from January 22, 2007 to present.

“The case is about holding companies to deliver what they've promised," DeNittis tells AP.

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Not surprisingly, the Twitterverse deemed the lawsuit worthy of being mocked.

“If NYers win lawsuit against Subway, I have some makers of 'Fun Sized' candy bars on my lawsuit list,” write Matt Kalman @TheBruinsBlog.

Vince. H. @Americanmade65 writes “Subway is being sued because their footlong sub isn’t 12 inches long. My girlfriend filed a similar lawsuit against Me.”

Others were left inspired. Ben White @morningmoneyben tweets “In light of the Subway foot-long lawsuit, I am totally suing McDonalds over the ‘quarter pounder.’ Because, yeah right.”

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White does raise an interesting question though: Has McDonald’s or any other fast food chain even been sued over the size claims of their products? Or is this the beginning of a humongous legal battle over light quarter pounders and slender burritos?

Baer says there are far more law suits like this in the U.S., because in Canada, if you lose a class action law suit, you have to pay the defendant’s legal costs. The U.S. doesn’t have that rule, so there’s little to lose in suing.

For example, Taco Bell was recently sued with the claim that their filling was only 35 per cent beef. The Mexican food chain won that case and launched a massive advertising campaign demanding an apology from the plaintiffs.

In the Subway lawsuit, Baer says there is a small chance evidence could surface that would give the case weight, as lawyers gain access to internal documents.

“What would be ideal is to find some sort of internal memo saying we’re purposely going to shrink our subs to make a bunch of money,” says Baer. “But I certainly wouldn’t touch this case in Canada without something like that.”