The Most Surprising Business Lawsuits of 2012

Lawsuit. A word that can strike fear in any business. If it feels like lawsuits are in the news a lot lately, that’s because they are. The popularity of litigation as a means of settling disputes in recent years has meant that many companies have faced lawsuits recently. Some suits are brought against companies by unhappy workers (or ex-workers) who feel the company violated labor or wage laws.

Others are brought by consumers. In some cases, lawsuits are even brought by people who did not do business with the company but were subjected to unwanted and improper advertising or other forms of sales tactics. Listed below are some of the most surprising lawsuits that were filed against companies in 2012:

Papa John’s

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A class action lawsuit was filed pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act against the pizza chain because some of its franchises allegedly sent unsolicited text messages to customers. The plaintiffs claimed that they received text messages from Papa John’s advertising deals that were being offered, even if they had not agreed to receive such advertisements via text message.

Papa John’s responded to the allegations by claiming that these text messages were sent by the individual franchises in partnership with a third party text messaging service and without the knowledge of the corporate office. The plaintiffs are asking for damages of $500 per text message.

Nutella

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Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, settled a class action lawsuit for $3.05 million in early 2012. The lawsuit was brought by upset parents who fed their children Nutella for breakfast after viewing television ads that suggested that it was a healthy breakfast option.

When they learned that in reality Nutella had substantial sugar and fat content, the parents sued Ferrero, claiming that the Nutella advertising was false and misleading. Ferrero eventually agreed to the settlement, promising to reimburse those who had purchased Nutella in the last few years.

Darden Restaurants

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Darden, the corporate owner of such restaurants as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, was sued by current and formers servers who worked at some of its restaurants. The servers filed a class action lawsuit against the company, claiming that it violated federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

Among other things, the servers allege that they were required to arrive to their shifts on time but not permitted to clock in until customers had begun to come in. They were also required to clock out when their shifts were scheduled to end, but were forced to stay late if they had work they needed to complete.

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