Courting Justice: Beer, Hoagies and Civil Justice

April 17, 2013

By Robert N. Hunn

There were two class action lawsuits filed this year that caught my attention. A lawyer in New Jersey is suing Subway for deceptive advertising. The lawsuit claims that while Subway calls its hoagies “Footlongs”, most sandwiches are only eleven and a half inches long. All this time, we thought we were eating a solid twelve inches of roll and meat. Boy, were we duped.

This lawsuit bothers me on so many different levels I don’t know where to begin. Personally, I like a Subway hoagie every now and then. But at no time did I buy one because I thought I was paying for twelve inches of food. The actually length of the sandwich never crossed my mind. Consequently, I was never deceived. In fact, Subway did me a favor by making their sandwiches shorter than twelve inches. I could stand to eat less. We all could.

At some point in our lives, we’ve known one or two guys who egotistically refer to that certain part of their body (which I won’t mention in a PG-rated blog) as Mr. Footlong. Is someone going to sue them for deceptive advertising? “Your Honor, I only slept with the defendant because he said he was a Footlong. As a result, I wasted 37 seconds of my time. I could have been doing something productive and enjoyable.”

You know who else isn’t happy with this class action? Just about every trial lawyer in America. I belong to a few email listservs that are exclusively for plaintiff trial lawyers. When the news broke that this lawsuit was filed, my national listserv erupted. Lawyers throughout the country were angry that someone brought such a case.

The other class action lawsuit deals with beer. The case is against Anheuser-Busch and claims that the company dilutes Budweiser with water so that it does not have the alcohol content listed on its label. The suit claims that people have been deceived into buying Budweiser thinking it had a certain ABV percentage when in fact the ABV was lower.

I don’t know if this is true or not. But, if the plaintiff is correct, I’m all in favor of this lawsuit. Here’s why. We all know someone who, every now and then, enjoys getting-their-drink-on. In fact, some people think that’s the reason God created weekends—to-get-their-drink-on. If there is a person who’s been getting-their-drink-on with Budweiser, than Anheuser Busch made it more expensive for that person to do so. That person has to pay for more Buds to achieve that certain level of drink-on sensation that they were searching for. And that’s not fair. You think the NRA is a tough group? Don’t mess with the beer drinkers of America.

Unfortunately, I will not be a member of this class action. I drink Bass Ale and dabble in various craft beers.