Result: Settlement valued at $51 million
Judge Issues Order Finalizing $51 Million Settlement in Kona Coffee Labeling Lawsuit
On Friday June 25, 2021, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik issued an order granting final approval to a $51 million settlement of the lawsuit brought by Hawaiian farmers accusing retailers of selling regular coffee under the name “Kona.”
Judge Lasnik approved a cash settlement of $13.1 million to the Kona growers and an injunction provision requiring labeling standards for coffee retailers and mandating that retailers cannot put “Kona” on their labels unless there is certified Kona coffee in their product; that stricture is projected to generate $37.9 million in revenue for the growers over the next five years.
All of the companies agreed to the revised labeling standards, which state only the Hawaii Department of Agriculture can define coffee as authentic Kona.
Lieff Cabraser brought suit on behalf of the farmers in 2019, claiming that only coffee harvested from Hawaii’s Big Island is actually Kona coffee, and that those companies — almost two dozen named in the original suit — were selling beans and ground coffee under the name without buying from them, in violation of the Lanham Act.
The David vs. Goliath style case pitted three small, longtime Kona coffee farms against 22 major coffee suppliers and retailers, selling a variety of mislabeled coffee products across the country in multiple channels of commerce.