Whose Foot Is It? Subway sued for failing to ensure all footlongs are 12 inches

25 Jan

Two men in New Jersey have sued Subway, alleging that the sandwich chain’s sandwiches aren’t as advertised. A New York Post story on the suit is available here.

The attorney for the men explained the suit: “The case is about holding companies to deliver what they’ve promised,” according to the Post article.

The piece also includes an investigation performed by the newspaper that revealed four out of seven sandwiches purchased in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens measured less than 12 inches, instead running 11 to 11.5 inches.

The attorney in the New Jersey case plans to seek class action status for this lawsuit, and to commence a similar class action suit on behalf of allegedly short-changed customers in Pennsylvania, according to this piece from the Associated Press.

It appears these cases and the New York Post’s investigation arose from a recent post on Subway’s Facebook page holding a tape measure up next to a sandwich apparently showing it to be just 11 inches long.

For its part, it appears Subway hasn’t run from the controversy. While it has stated that sometimes individual stores may deviate slightly from corporate practices, resulting in varied sandwich lengths, according to the linked article its spokesperson has also stated that Subway intends to honor its “footlong” representations going forward.

At this time, we have not seen whether or how the New Jersey lawsuit may be resolved. But while it’s easy to scoff at something relatively minor to an average sandwich purchaser, news sources say Subway has more than 37,000 stores worldwide, and cutting even small corners (if done intentionally) can lead to significant total savings for those who own the stores. It is worth noting that Minnesota laws currently on the books likely would apply to this situation, including the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act, and Minnesota’s version of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. These laws are to protect consumers and competitive businesses from one party misleading people into purchasing its products over a competitors, or purchasing a product that is not what it’s supposed to be. Whether this is a case that justifies invoking these strong public protections is another question.

Matt Drewes contributed this post.  Matt is a Shareholder with Thomsen Nybeck.  He is the head of the firm’s nine-member Community Association Representation Group and the firm’s Creditors’ Remedies Group, and practices in the areas of business and real estate litigation and transactions, employment law, construction litigation, community association law, debtor/creditor law and insurance. He has been included in the annual list of Minnesota’s Rising Stars for several years, and has been quoted in the Minneapolis StarTribune, Minnesota Lawyer, Habitat Magazine, Yahoo!Finance.com, Bankrate.com, MSN.com, HOALeader.com, and elsewhere on issues involving construction litigation, community associations and real property issues . He can be reached at mdrewes@tn-law.com or by phone at 952.835.7000.

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