Martinelli v. Johnson & Johnson, et al.
Benecol Spreads Settlement

Frequently Asked Questions


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  • The notice explains that the Court has allowed, or “preliminarily approved,” a class action settlement that may affect you. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise under this Settlement. Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. of the United States Court for the Eastern District of California is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as Martinelli v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., Case No. 2:15-cv-01733-MCE-DB.

  • The lawsuit is about whether Defendants allegedly misrepresented the trans fat content of Benecol Spreads by labeling them as containing “No Trans Fats” when, in fact, they did contain trans fat.

  • In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case, Plaintiff JoAnn Martinelli) sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The named plaintiff who sued – and all the Class Members like them – are called the “Plaintiffs.” The companies they sued (in this case, Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Nutritionals, LLC) are called the “Defendants.” One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class–except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the Class.

  • If you purchased a Benecol Spread for personal use in the United States between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, you are a Class Member. The Settlement does not include: (i) Defendants and their respective officers and directors; (ii) all Settlement Class Members who timely and validly request exclusion from the Settlement Class; and (iii) the Judge assigned to evaluate the fairness of this settlement.

  • The Court preliminarily approved this class action because it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts.

    More information about why the Court preliminarily approved the class action settlement is in the Court’s Order Preliminarily Approving the Class Action Settlement, which is available at the Important Documents page.

  • Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants misrepresented the trans fat content of Benecol Spreads by labeling them as containing “No Trans Fats” when, in fact, they did contain trans fat.

    Defendants deny the allegations and contend that the label is not misleading and clearly identified that the product contained insignificant amounts of Trans Fats. You can read Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint at the Important Documents page.

  • Defendants deny that they misrepresented the trans fat content of Benecol Spreads, deny any wrongdoing, and deny the Plaintiff’s allegations. You can read Defendants’ Answer to the First Amended Complaint at the Important Documents page.

  • To avoid the cost, risk, and delay of litigation, the Parties reached a Settlement as to the claims of Plaintiff and the Settlement Class.

  • The deadlines to submit a claim, exclude yourself or object to have the settlement have passed. 

  • The Deadline to submit a claim was February 25, 2022 and has passed. 

  • The Class Representative, Plaintiff JoAnn Martinelli, will receive a portion of the settlement as Settlement Class Member should she opt to submit a Claim. The Class Representative will also receive a payment of up to $7,500 as an Incentive Award for having filed and pursued this action. Any Incentive Award is subject to Court approval.

  • By doing nothing, you are staying in the Class. By staying in the Class, all of the Court’s orders will apply to you, and you give Defendants a “release.” A release means you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against Defendants about the claims or issues in this Lawsuit (relating to Benecol Spreads), and you will be bound by the Settlement.

  • If you excluded yourself from the Class – which is sometimes called “opting-out” of the Class– you won’t get any money or benefits from this Settlement. However, you may then be able to separately sue or continue to sue Defendants for the legal claims that are the subject of this lawsuit. If you exclude yourself, you will not be legally bound by the Court’s judgments in this class action.

    If you bring your own lawsuit against Defendants after you exclude yourself, you will have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims. If you do exclude yourself so you can start or continue your own lawsuit against Defendants, you should talk to your own lawyer soon, because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations.

  • The deadline to exclude yourself from the class was January 26, 2022 and has passed.

  • Any Settlement Class Member who did not request to be excluded from the Settlement Class could have objected to the Settlement. In order to exercise this right, you must have submitted a written objection to the Settlement Administrator. The deadline to object to the Settlement was January 26, 2022 and has passed. The final approval hearing is scheduled for March 24, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

  • The Court appointed Bursor & Fisher, P.A. to represent the Plaintiff and all Class Members as “Class Counsel.” More information about this law firm, its practices, and its lawyers’ experience is available at

  • If you choose to remain in the Class, you do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel are working on your behalf. But, if you want your own lawyer, you will be responsible for paying that lawyer. For example, you can ask him or her to appear in Court for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.

  • Class Counsel will petition the Court for up to one-third of the total value of the Settlement, plus their costs and expenses of suit. You will not have to pay these fees, costs, and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees, costs, and expenses will be or paid separately by Defendants.

  • The Court will hold a Final Approval and Fairness Hearing on March 24, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. to determine whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and in the best interests of the class, and to rule on applications for compensation for Class Counsel and an incentive award for the Plaintiff. At that hearing, the Court will be available to hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed Settlement.

    YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND THIS HEARING TO BENEFIT FROM THIS SETTLEMENT. The hearing may be postponed to a later date without notice. The Court may hold the hearing in person at the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse, 501 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, via Zoom, or telephonically. Instructions on how to appear at the hearing will be available on the settlement website,

    If you have objected to the settlement and intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either with or without counsel, you must serve your notice on the Settlement Administrator, by January 26, 2022. See FAQ 14 for complete instruction on objecting to the Settlement and appearing at the Fairness Hearing.

  • For more information, please visit the Important Documents page, where you will find the Court’s Order Preliminarily Approving the Class Action Settlement, the Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint, Defendants’ Answer, and an Exclusion Request Form.

    You may also contact Class Counsel by email at, or by writing to Benecol Spreads Settlement, c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91426, Seattle, WA 98111.


For More Information

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

Benecol Spreads Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91426
Seattle, WA 98111