Bloomberg Law
March 21, 2023, 7:10 PM

Wesson Oil Deal Objector’s Lawyers Seek Fee for Improvements

Julie Steinberg
Julie Steinberg

Attorneys representing a law professor who objected to the first “natural” Wesson Oil false-ad settlement asked for nearly $250,000 for their work in securing a revised agreement with Conagra Brands Inc. that provides an additional $1 million for class members.

Robert Briseño and others sued in 2011, alleging Wesson Oil was deceptively labeled “100% natural” because it contained genetically modified ingredients. Some 11 statewide classes were certified and a settlement was reached in 2018.

M. Todd Henderson objected to the initial settlement, which would have paid up to $1 million in claims and given nearly $7 million to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

He appealed its approval to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which scrapped the deal because of concern that the attorneys colluded among themselves to the detriment of the class.

A revamped settlement, which provides a $3 million fund for claims and expenses, got preliminary approval in November from Judge Cormac J. Carney of the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs’ lawyers didn’t ask for a fee but said they would seek about $978,000 for reimbursement of costs incurred during more than a decade of litigation.

The new version is expected to provide $2 million for the class. It would be error to not credit Henderson’s objections and appeal with the additional $1 million, a Monday court filing said.

The $250,000 request includes $247,000 in fees and costs for Henderson’s lawyers and a $2,500 service payment to him. The figure represents 25% of the additional benefit, the benchmark in the Ninth Circuit, he said.

These awards should be paid out of class counsel’s expense reimbursement so they don’t diminish the class recovery, he said.

A final approval hearing is set for April 17.

Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC, Tadler Law LLP, and DiCello Levitt are class counsel. Alston & Bird LLP represents Conagra Brands, formerly known as ConAgra Foods. The Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness represents Henderson.

The case is Briseno v. Conagra Foods, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:11-cv-05379, motion 3/20/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Maya Earls at

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