Drinkers of Templeton Rye have another month to submit their claims to get up to a $36 share of a $2.5 million settlement the company has reached to end a class action over the company’s allegedly deceptive marketing tactics.
The class representatives and other named plaintiffs in the action, and the attorneys who represented them, however, are guaranteed to get quite a bit more, regardless of how many of Templeton Rye’s customers can verify they bought a bottle or a round of the whiskey since 2006.
The settlement, which was granted preliminary approval by a Cook County judge in July, would effectively end class action litigation brought in separate cases in 2014 by plaintiffs Mario Aliano, owner of Due Fratelli Inc., parent company Aliano’s Ristorante in Batavia, and Christopher McNair, Ryan Townsend and Timothy Seils.
The lawsuits each asserted Templeton Rye had misled consumers in advertisements and other marketing materials by claiming its whiskey was produced in the small western Iowa town of Templeton, using a recipe preferred by gangster Al Capone. In fact, the lawsuits asserted, the whiskey was produced by MGP Ingredients, a mass distiller of whiskey based in Indiana, which produces whiskey for sale under a number of brand names in the U.S. and internationally. The plaintiffs asserted they would not have bought Templeton Rye, or at least would not have paid as much as they did, if they knew the whiskey wasn’t made entirely in Templeton, Iowa, as they said they believed the Templeton Rye label and other marketing materials asserted.
In announcing the settlement, Templeton Rye said it had succeeded in “demonstrating to plaintiffs that Templeton Rye Whiskey is not a ‘stock whiskey’ sourced from a third party as alleged.”
The company acknowledged its relationship with MGP, but asserted, after the whiskey produced in Indiana is received at Templeton Rye’s headquarters in Templeton, Iowa, “the company adds its own proprietary formulation to match the flavor profile” of the whiskey’s original recipe.
“Though the relationship between Templeton Rye and our Indiana-based distillery partner is described on our website, we recognize that our marketing efforts should have provided more clarity about our production process,” Templeton Rye co-found Keith Kerkhoff said in a prepared statement.
The company said it has “made adjustments” to its “label and marketing materials” as part of its efforts to end the litigation, saying it is “recommitting itself to consumer transparency.”
According to settlement documents posted on the website, www.TempletonRyeSettlement.com, run by Dahl Administration, of Minneapolis, people who bought a bottle of the whiskey, with a proof of purchase, between Jan. 1, 2006, and July 1, 2015, are eligible to receive $6 back; those who bought a bottle and don’t have a receipt can get $3; and those who bought a drink of the whiskey in a tavern can get $1 back for up to five drinks. These potential members of the plaintiff class can only receive up to a maximum of $36 per person, regardless of how many bottles of Templeton Rye whiskey they bought, the settlement documents said.
However, people seeking to secure any money must submit their claims, using a claim form available on the settlement website by Nov. 18.
The settlement documents noted Aliano will receive $5,000 and the other named plaintiffs will each receive $2,500 from the settlement.
The plaintiffs were represented in the action by attorneys Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr., of the Zimmerman Law Offices, of Chicago, and Ari J. Scharg, of Edelson P.C., of Chicago. According to the settlement documents, the attorneys, who were designated as class counsel, would receive $750,000.
Templeton Rye was represented in the action by attorneys Thomas J. Cunningham and Simon A. Fleischmann, of the firm of Locke Lord LLP, of Chicago.
Objectors to the settlement agreement have until Nov. 3 to submit objections.
A fairness hearing on the settlement deal is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. before Cook County Circuit Judge Rodolfo Garcia in Chicago.