Hansen-Mitchell, et al. v. Welspun USA, Inc., et al. is a class action settlement involving the incorrect marketing and advertising of manufacturer Welspun’s luxury bed sheets. Here are the things you need to know…
What was the case about?
This lawsuit was brought against Welspun USA, a manufacturer of home textiles stocked all over the USA including in retailers like Target and Walmart. Plaintiffs claim that Welspun misled consumers by labelling their products as Egyptian cotton or pima cotton between January 1, 2012 and July 2, 2019. Welspun has always denied the allegations and maintain that they have no legal monetary responsibility towards people claiming damages. Plaintiffs and members of the class action, however, claim that they would not have made their purchases if it weren’t for the misleading advertising.
Why did Welsprun choose a settlement?
The Egyptian pima cotton settlement was actually recommended by the legal counsel for both sides of the lawsuit. Continuing with litigation posed significant risk to both sides. Welsprun’s greatest obstacle was proving that the Egyptian and pima products were authentic, or the risk of the opposition proving the advertising was misleading. On the other hand, the class action website lists reasons like the difficulty proving the level to which the marketing and labelling of the subject products could deceive a reasonable person. The class counsel website also states that, ‘in particular, it may be difficult to establish that different marketing and labeling would have changed the volume of sales or the pricing of the subject products’. In other words, the plaintiff’s would have difficulty proving their claim that they would not have purchased the product if they knew the origin may not be authentic. With all the information available, both parties decided a settlement would be the best route, rather than to risk continuing with litigation.
When will the settlement happen?
The deadline to submit your claim to join the class action settlement closed on November 27 2019, having opened months earlier in September. The objection deadline and opt out deadline also passed on Friday October 11 2019.
The settlement, however, still has to go through a Fairness Hearing in the Circuit Court. The hearing began on October 28, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. Central Time at the 20th Judicial Circuit, Court of St. Clair, State of Illinois, St. Clair County Building, before the Honorable Judge Christopher T. Kolker. This hearing will decide whether to approve the settlement and to award the attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to $9,000,000 (or the equivalent of 25% of the value of the settlement amount), administration expenses to be paid by defendants, as well as $750 per named plaintiff as class service awards. For more information and to stay up to date with this hearing you can follow the class action website – http://www.egyptianpimacottonsettlement.com/ or the website of the Circuit Court – http://www.circuitclerk.co.st-clair.il.us/courts/Pages/default.aspx
If the settlement does please the court and get approved in the fairness hearing, it will be distributed approximately 60 days after the hearing when the settlement is no longer subject to appeal or review.
How much was the settlement?
The settlement amount agreed on for valid claims is capped at $36,000,000. The actual amount individuals receive will depend on factors such as the tier of class membership you claimed and if you have proof of purchase.
Additionally, Wlespun agreed to pay the costs for the notice and administration of the settlement. Attorney’s fees and other costs surrounding the settlement, however, must still be approved through the fairness hearing (see above and follow the class action website and circuit court website for more information).
Below is an excerpt from the class action website of the different levels of compensation available:
- (a) Tier 1. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form for Tier 1 and who provide valid Proof of Purchase may recover: (i) up to a maximum of two dollars and thirty cents ($2.30) per Subject Product for towels and pillowcases; and (ii) up to a maximum of nine dollars and twenty cents ($9.20) per Subject Product for all other products purchased during the Class Period. There is no Household limit for Tier 1 Claims.
- (b) Tier 2. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form for Tier 2 and who do not have a valid Proof of Purchase may recover: (i) up to a maximum of one dollar and fifteen cents ($1.15) per Subject Product for towels and pillowcases; and (ii) up to a maximum of four dollars and sixty cents ($4.60) per Subject Product for other products purchased during the Class Period. There is a ten dollars and thirty-five cents ($10.35) Household cap for Tier 2 Claims.
- (c) Tier 3. All individuals who already have received a Refund and (i) for whom the Settlement Administrator has a valid U.S. mailing or email address or (ii) who timely submit a request for voucher shall receive a voucher that is good for the greater of a ten percent (10%) one-time discount or a five dollars and zero cents ($5.00) credit on a future purchase through one or more online outlets to be specified on the voucher. Vouchers will be fully transferable but cannot be clubbed and will expire within one (1) year of issuance. The vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash.
With the total amount of the settlement capped at $36,000,000, these amounts may be altered depending on how many claims were lodged by the November 27 2019 deadline.
Who could lodge a claim?
The Hansen-Mitchell, et al. v. Welspun USA, Inc., et al. class action was open for any eligible persons to join until November 27 2019. The complete list of eligibility criteria for joining the class action settlement was:
- The person purchased Welspun home textile products labelled as ‘Egyptian cotton’ or ‘Pima cotton’.
- The purchase was made between January 1, 2012 and July 2, 2019.
- The purchase was in the United States of America.
- The products must have been for personal use (not for commercial resale)
Proof of purchase was not required to join the claim, however the financial compensation without proof of purchase will be significantly lower when the settlement happens.
If you did not opt-out by the deadline in October 2019, and also did not file a claim during the class period by the November 27 2019 deadline, there is unfortunately nothing you can do – even if you have proof of purchase for Welspun Egyptian cotton or pima cotton products. You will not receive any part of the settlement, and may not bring future legal action against Welspun. The only way to have been able to bring similar future legal action against Welspun would have been to opt-out of the settlement by the October 2019 deadline. To read more information about your rights and how the settlement works, look at the information and settlement document on the class action website – http://www.egyptianpimacottonsettlement.com/DocumentHandler.ashx?DocPath=/Documents/Welspun_Long_Form_v6_final.pdf
Summary overview of the settlement of Hansen-Mitchell, et al. v. Welspun USA, Inc., et al.
- Welspun agreed to a settlement of $36,000,000 for falsely advertising their products
- To have been eligible for receiving part of the settlement amount you must have: purchased an eligible Welspun product between January 1, 2012 and July 2, 2019. The purchase must have been in the United States of America and been intended for personal use (not resale).
- If you did not have proof of purchase, you could still receive some of the financial settlement.
- Claims had to have been lodged by Wednesday November 27, 2019 to be included in the settlement.
- The settlement still has to go through a Fairness Hearing before going ahead which started in October 2019.
Are my bedsheets real or fake?
The Hansen-Mitchell, et al. v. Welspun USA, Inc., et al. case is an important reminder that there are a lot of fake and misleading products claiming to be luxury cotton that are not genuine products.
Back to back studies done in 2009 and 2012 by the Applied DNA Sciences showed that more than 80% of luxury bed sheets were mislabelled or incorrectly advertised. They used scientific DNA testing on the cotton fibres of various luxury linen that showed the origins of the cotton were not what was advertised by the manufacturers.
If you are worried your luxury cotton sheets are not the real deal and could be fakes, it is very difficult to prove. Your best way of ensuring your products are genuine is to check them before purchasing. For example, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that an Egyptian cotton product is legitimate. To read our article on how to spot fakes and ensure your products are genuine, click here.
Check out our range of real Egyptian cotton sheets
We have a wide range of sheets and linen available to please everyone! The softness and quality of our new Egyptian cotton bedding is unrivalled. Check out our review page for the best Egyptian Cotton Sheets.