Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al.
Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement
2:19-cv-00290-RSL

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • Records show that you farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and sold Kona coffee February 27, 2015, and March 9, 2021. For more detail, please refer to Question 3 below.

    The Court sent you the Notices to inform you of the Settlements in the class action lawsuit Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., et al., No. 1:19-cv-00290, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The Notices outline the terms of the Settlements, who is a Settlement Class Member, your right to remain a member of the Settlement Class in any of the Settlements, how Settlement funds will be paid, how to comment on or object to any of the Settlements, and how to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class in any of the Settlements.

    Judge Lasnik of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington is overseeing this class action.

    Those who brought the lawsuit are the “Plaintiffs,” and the parties being sued are the “Defendants.” There were other Defendants in this lawsuit who had not reached settlements with the Plaintiffs at the time the notice was issued. Those Defendants not included in the definition of Settling Defendants are not part of the Settlements.

  • Plaintiffs allege that the Settling Defendants falsely advertised and falsely designated coffee as originating from the Kona region in violation of the federal Lanham Act. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and other relief allowed under the Lanham Act.

    Although the Settling Defendants deny Plaintiffs’ claims for liability and damages they have agreed to settle the class action to avoid the time and expense of continuing the lawsuit.

    A more complete description of the lawsuit is in the court filings on the Important Documents page, or in the file for the lawsuit maintained by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (see Question 17 below). Additionally, should you have questions regarding the lawsuit, you can submit them in writing to Class Counsel at the addresses provided under Question 13.

    The Court has not ruled in favor of Plaintiffs or Settling Defendants. Instead, both sides agreed to the Settlements before the case proceeded to a trial. Plaintiffs and their counsel believe that the Settlements are best for all members of the Settlement Class.

  • The Settlement Class includes all persons and entities who farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and then sold their Kona coffee between February 27, 2015, and March 9, 2021.

    Excluded from the Settlement Class are the Settling Defendants, any Judges to whom the case is assigned, and their immediate families and staffs.

    If you are a Settlement Class Member, you will be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court and by the Court’s final resolution of the Settlement Class claims in the lawsuit.

  • If you are still not sure if you are part of the Settlement Class, please email info@KonaCoffeeSettlement.com or call (toll-free) 1-833-667-1227.  You may also contact Class Counsel (See Question 9).

    Please do not contact the Court.

  • The Settlements provide money for Settlement Class Members, require the Settling Defendants to modify the label of any coffee products labeled as “Kona” or “Kona Blend", and require Gold to create labeling requirements for Costco’s and TJX’s vendors of such coffee products.

    Under the Settlements, the Settling Defendants will make a total payment of $13,105,750. BCC will make a payment of $1,125,000. Cameron’s will make a payment of $4,900,000. Copper Moon will make a payment of $360,000. Cost Plus will make a payment of $200,000. MCC will make a payment of $420,750. Gold will make a payment of $6,100,000. The Settlement Amount will be distributed to Settlement Class Members on a pro-rata basis (as calculated by Settlement Class Members’ reported sales volumes), less Court-awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses and service awards to the Class Representatives, and less any voluntary contributions for the benefit of the Kona region.

    In order to be eligible to receive money from the Settlements, Class Members are required to submit a valid Claim Form online or postmarked/emailed by September 25, 2021. For more information, please visit the File a Claim page.

    In exchange for the benefits received by the Class, the Settling Defendants and retailer Defendants to the extent they sold the Settling Defendants’ products will be released from claims the Settlement Class Members may have against them relating to the claims asserted in the lawsuit, including claims relating to the Settling Defendants’ labeling of coffee products that use the word “Kona.”

  • If you are a Settlement Class Member, you are eligible to receive money from the Settlements. In order to receive a settlement payment, Class Members are required to submit a valid Claim Form. Your claim must be submitted online or postmarked/emailed no later than September 25, 2021. For more information on how to submit a claim, please visit the File a Claim page.

  • If you don’t want to be in the Settlement Class in any or all of the Settlements and you want to keep the right to sue one or more of the Settling Defendants about the same claims on your own, you needed to take steps to get out of the Settlement Class.  This is called excluding yourself from or “opting out of” the Settlement Class.  The deadlines to request exclusion from the Settlements have passed.

  • The deadlines to request exclusion from the Settlements have passed. For more information about the deadlines, please visit the Key Dates page.

  • The Court has appointed the following law firms to represent the Settlement Class:

    Paul Richard Brown
    Nathan T. Paine
    Karr Tuttle Campbell
    701 5th Ave, Suite 3300
    Seattle, WA 98104

    Jason L. Lichtman
    Daniel E. Seltz
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
    250 Hudson St., 8th Floor
    New York, NY 10013

    Andrew R. Kaufman
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein LLP
    222 2nd Ave South, Suite 1640
    Nashville, TN 37201

    These lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” You do not have to directly pay Class Counsel. If you want your own lawyer, and to have that lawyer appear in court, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • As to the first set of settlements, Class Counsel requested that the Court award Class Counsel partial reimbursement of their Litigation Expenses to date, totaling $600,000, approve an Incentive Payment to the Class Representatives, and award attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel in an amount not exceeding $3 million, or 25 percent of the total economic value of the Settlements, whichever is less. Any attorneys’ fees, expenses, and incentive payments awarded by the Court will be paid from the Settlement Funds. Again, if you choose to hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for that attorney’s fees and expenses.

    As to the second set of settlements, Class Counsel requested that the Court award Class Counsel partial reimbursement of their Litigation Expenses to date, totaling $600,000, approve an Incentive Payment to the Class Representatives, and award attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel in an amount not exceeding $2.6 million, or 25 percent of the total economic value of the Settlements, whichever is less. Any attorneys’ fees, expenses, and incentive payments awarded by the Court will be paid from the Settlement Funds. Again, if you choose to hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for that attorney’s fees and expenses.

    The Court granted Class Counsel's motion, and you access the motion and Order on the Important Documents page.

  • You don’t need to hire your own lawyer, but you may elect to do so. If you wanted your own lawyer to speak for you or to appear in Court, you or your lawyer needed to file a Notice of Appearance. The deadlines have passed.

    You should also consult your own tax advisor regarding the tax consequences to you of the settlement, including, without limitation, any tax reporting obligations you may have with respect to the settlement.

  • The Settlements were granted final approval by the Court on June 25, 2021. The Court appointed Plaintiffs Bruce Corker d/b/a Randho Aloha, Colehour Bondera and Melanie Bondera d/b/a Kanalani Ohana Farm, and Robert Smith and Cecelia Smith d/b/a Smithfarms as Class Representatives. The Class Representatives work with Class Counsel on behalf of all Settlement Class Members to present the views of Settlement Class Members to Class Counsel and the Court. The Class Representatives will each be entitled to an Incentive Payment Award not to exceed $20,000 per farm (from the first set of settlements) and $15,000 per farm (from the second set of settlements).

  • The deadlines to object or comment on the Settlements have passed.

  • The Court held a Final Approval Hearing on June 24, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. PT to consider whether the Settlements are fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court granted final approval of the Settlements on June 25, 2021. You may read the Court's Order here.

  • Attendance was not required, even if you properly mailed a written objection or comment.  

  • If you wanted to speak or have your own lawyer speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you needed to give the Court a paper that is called a “Notice of Appearance.” The deadlines to file the "Notice of Appearance" have passed.

  • The notice summarizes the Settlements and your rights and options as a Settlement Class Member. To find out more information, please review this website, call 1-833-667-1227, or write to:

    Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91232
    Seattle, WA 98111

    If you have a question about whether or not you are in the Settlement Class, or about your rights and options as a Settlement Class Member, you may contact the Class Counsel (see Question 9).

    All court records, including the Settlement Agreement and other documents for the Lawsuit, may be examined in person and copied at the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, United States Courthouse, 700 Stewart Street, Suite 2310, Seattle, WA 98101.

    Please do not telephone the Court, the Clerk of the Court, or the settling defendants.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail
Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91232
Seattle, WA 98111