OAKLAND, Calif. - Subway has filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed by two Bay Area women that claims there's no tuna in their tuna sandwiches.
Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin, both of whom live in Alameda County, filed a class action suit in January in U.S. District Court of Northern California, alleging that the tuna wasn't tuna and that the filling was crafted it to "imitate the appearance of tuna" so the restaurant could get more money for the product. Amin has since left the suit.
However on June 7, the complainants removed the "no tuna" claim from their suit but maintain subway's labeling, marketing, and advertising of its tuna was suspicious.
In court filings on July 23, Subway restaurants called the claim "frivolous" and said the women offered no facts to support their claims in an effort to end the ongoing lawsuit.
In the same filing, Subway said the negative media attention from the lawsuit hurt thousands of franchisees by depressing sales of a best-selling product. In a June 20 article, the New York Times said a lab analysis of Subway tuna purchased in Los Angeles could not pinpoint a species of fish, meaning that the contents were heavily processed or contained no tuna.
"While Subway has offered the plaintiffs' and their counsel a graceful exit from the morass they had created by simply dismissing their claims with prejudice and issuing a public apology, they have instead doubled down on their destructive behavior with new, equally unsupportable claims," Subway said.
Subway is represented by Baker and McKenzie, which has office in Palo Alto and San Francisco.
"Consumers expect that a tuna sandwich will have tuna in it," said New York University professor of nutrition Marion Nestle. "The tuna can be mixed with mayonnaise, it can be mixed with celery. It can be mixed with other kinds of things. But basically, if it's advertised as a tuna sandwich, you would expect that the main ingredient would be tuna."
Subway says an independent lab verified their tuna as true tuna in 30 tests and claims it is yellowfin or skipjack tuna used in its sandwiches.