A judge last week gave final approval to a settlement resolving a class-action lawsuit customers filed in 2013. An Australian teenager shared a photo of his sandwich on Facebook that was only 11 inches, kicking off an international media blitz.
Further investigations by customers and media outlets found that many sandwiches measured only 11 or 11.5 inches.
According to the settlement — which received preliminary approval in October — Subway agrees to institute practices for at least the next four years to ensure that sandwich bread measures at least 12 inches long, reports The Associated Press.
The judge approved $520,000 in attorney fees and $500 for each of the 10 individuals who were representatives of the class, but no monetary claims were awarded to potential members of the class.
“It was difficult to prove monetary damages, because everybody ate the evidence,” said Thomas Zimmerman, who was co-lead attorney for the class.
Lynn Adelman, a judge for the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, wrote in the final approval that attorneys for the plaintiffs realized their claims may not hold up after a mediation session. So the plaintiffs decided to focus on making Subway ensure sandwiches are 12 inches.
The bread is made with frozen dough sticks that weigh the same when they arrive at stores frozen, plaintiffs’ attorneys discovered, that is then thawed and stretched for baking. That process can lead to different sizes and shapes of bread.
Though the dough might look different from sandwich to sandwich, the amount of ingredients remains the same. Meat and cheese portions are standardized, but it is possible that a shorter sandwich “might be missing a few shreds of lettuce or a gram or two of mayonnaise,” the judge wrote.
Adelman added, however, that customers can ask for more toppings.
“Thus, the plaintiffs learned that, as a practical matter, the length of the bread does not affect the quantity of food the customer receives,” she wrote.
Subway said in a statement that it’s pleased the judge didn’t find any wrongdoing on its part.
“This allows us to move forward, without distractions, on our goal to provide great tasting sandwiches and salads, made exactly as each guest likes. We have already taken steps to ensure each guest receives the Footlong or six-inch sandwich they order,” the statement said.
Going forward, Subway says it’ll take steps to make sure bread is 12 inches long regardless, including having franchisees “use a tool for measuring bread.”
Subway to ensure ‘Footlongs’ measure up after lawsuit [The Associated Press]