An arguably even greater waste of taxpayer money than Pvt. Manning’s makeover is a case in federal court involving the content of a Reese’s Pieces box.
Troubled by the excess empty space in two $1 boxes of candy, Reese’s Pieces and Whoppers malted milk balls, Columbia resident Robert Bratton sued the Hershey Company under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), a 50-year-old law that was presumably conceived with some higher purpose in mind. As reported by KCUR, Bratton filed the class action suit in state court last year, and it has since moved to federal court.
Inspired perhaps by the proximity of a major research university, Bratton calculated that roughly 29 percent of a Reese’s Pieces boxes and 41 percent of a Whoppers box contained nothing but empty space. This caused him to suffer an “an ascertainable loss” given that “the actual value of the Products as purchased was less than the value of the Products as represented.”
In her preliminary ruling on the case, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey held that Bratton had “plausibly alleged, at minimum, that the packaging unfairly suggests the boxes contain more product than they actually do, or tends to or has the capacity to mislead consumers or to create a false impression, which is sufficient for purposes of alleging an unlawful practice under the MMPA.”
The fact that Hershey lists the number of pieces in each box on the label–surely as a result of some other well intentioned law–did not dissuade Laughrey from ruling, “The Court cannot conclude as a matter of law and at this stage of the litigation that the packaging is not misleading.”
For the case to go forward, Laughrey has to allow Bratton to recruit others harmed by Hershey to make this a class action. If the judge does so, Bratton should have little trouble finding fellow victims in a university town where victimization is all the rage.