Herff Jones class rings allegedly contain less gold than advertised according to a class action filed in federal court. The class ring lawsuit alleges:
16. All of Herff Jones’ gold class rings – whether rose gold, white gold, or yellow gold – are marked with a “10K,” “14K,” or “18K” stamp on the inside of the band to indicate that they contain 10/24K of gold, 14/24K of gold, or 18/24K of gold. Gold content can be measured in parts per thousand (“ppt”). 10K rings should contain 416.666667 ppt of gold, 14K rings should contain 583.333333 ppt of gold, and 18K rings should contain 750 ppt of gold.
17. The true gold content of Herff Jones’ class rings is not easily discoverable. Whether a class ring has the advertised amount of gold content cannot be observed by the naked eye, nor would a lay person notice any tell-tale signs that would alert her that the gold content of a ring was less than represented. The only way a Herff Jones customer could discover the true gold content of a class ring is to send the class ring to a qualified laboratory to perform scientific testing.
18. Upon information and belief, since at least 2012, Herff Jones has knowingly manufactured yellow, white, and rose gold class rings to contain less gold than indicated by the stamp on the inner band of the class rings, on their marketing material, on their order forms, and on their website.
19. Herff Jones does not disclose the actual gold content of its rings, or the discrepancies, to consumers, and continues to make extensive profits as a result.
First Amended Class Action Complaint, ¶¶ 16-19. According to the class action lawsuit, Herff Jones manufactures the class rings at its own factory in Rhode Island.
What are the potential penalties for claims of falsely advertising the gold content of class rings?
Falsely advertising the gold content of a class ring is a violation of the Federal Gold Labeling Act. Specifically, the Act states:
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or association, being a manufacturer of or wholesale or retail dealer in gold or silver jewelry . . . [to use] any mark or word indicating or designed or intended to indicate that the gold or silver or alloy of either of said metals in such article is of a greater degree of fineness than the actual fineness or quality of such gold, silver, or alloy.
Title 15, United States Code, section 294. Penalties for violations of the Gold Labeling Act include criminal penalties, injunctive relief, damages, costs, and attorney’s fees.
Are there other penalties or damages consumers can recover for sale advertising of the gold content of class rings?
Yes. In addition to violating the Federal Gold Labeling Act, such actions may also violate state consumer protection laws. For example, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act prohibits misrepresenting the approval or certification of goods or services; misrepresenting that goods or services have certain quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits; misrepresenting that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model; advertising or offering for sale goods that are defective without clearly and unequivocally indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale that the goods are defective; advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised; and using any other deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction. Va. Code §59.1-200(A)(2), (5), (6), (7), (8), and (14).
Consumers who are harmed by violations of the Act are entitled to damages for each violation in the amount of their actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater. Further, if the violation was willful, consumers may receive up to three times the actual damages sustained, or $1,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, the Act provides that the supplier who committed the violation must pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. Finally, even in the case of unintentional violations, the Court is empowered to award restitution and payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
If I bought a Herff Jones class ring, what are my options?
If you bought a Herff Jones class ring, you may wish to discuss your options with a lawyer. To consult with a lawyer at Webster Book LLP regarding your options, please use the contact form below or call us at 888-987-9991.