Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Chicago blasted a settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging the fast food chain Subway cheated its customers by serving "foot-long subs" that weren't actually a foot long.
Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, writing Friday for a unanimous three-judge panel, threw out a $525,000 settlement to cover the plaintiffs' legal fees. The settlement was authorized by a lower court to resolve a class-action suit brought by nine Subway customers who said the restaurant chain knowingly served its oft-advertised foot-long sandwiches on rolls that were not that big.
The suit was filed shortly after a Australian teen's photo of a foot-long Subway sub next to a tape measurer showed it was only 11 inches. The photo went viral on social media.
Sykes blasted the lawsuit as "utterly worthless" and said it only served to enrich the lawyers who brought the case.
The nine customers were awarded $500 each as their share of the settlement.
Sykes said "common sense" would dictate that a company cannot guarantee every roll it bakes exactly measures 12 inches, though during the discovery phase of the case, Subway proved the unbaked dough it uses for its rolls are a uniform shape. Furthermore, she said rolls that are slightly shorter do not result in customers receiving smaller sandwiches because the same amount of ingredients are put on every sub, with extra toppings and condiments offered free of charge at a customer's request.
As part of the settlement, Subway promised to institute safeguards to ensure all its rolls were at least 12 inches. Even if that were not the case, Sykes said the company didn't deserve to be sued.
"After the settlement, just as before, the rare sandwich that falls short of the full 12 inches will still provide the customer the same amount of food as any other," Sykes wrote.