Litigation on the menu for Applebee’s

applebees1.jpgA Seattle law firm says it’s filing a national consumer-protection class action against Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, following media reports that the chain misstated the fat and calorie content of items on its “Weight Watchers” menu. “Applebee’s is capitalizing on consumers’ desire to eat healthy, but not taking the steps necessary to provide consumers with reliably healthy food,” plaintiff Anne Paskett says in a news release put out by her lawyers.

The report, which aired on several ABC-TV news stations in May, also found other chains were overly optimistic about the nutritional content of their “healthy menu” items, but apparently Paskett was partial to eatin’ good in her neighborhood.

After the report aired, Applebee’s issued a statement defending its Weight Watchers menu, saying an independent lab had verified it was “94 percent compliant.”

I don’t pretend to know what “94 percent compliant” means, but just for fun I ran some numbers. Assuming you can maintain your current weight with 2,000 calories a day, being off by 6 percent comes to 120 calories a day — roughly the amount in six ounces of white wine. Which, in all too round figures, comes to about 12.5 pounds a year.

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor, Law

Chief judge ordered to act within 60 days

It’s not every day the 4th Circuit tells a district court judge to get cracking, but it happened here, after the appeals court learned that almost two years had passed since the last action on a motion for relief from final judgment.

Convicted drug conspirator Clarence Hicks complained of the delay by U.S. District Chief Judge Benson Everett Legg in a mandamus petition filed with the 4th Circuit on May 16.

“Finding substantial delay below, we grant the mandamus petition,” the per curiam panel wrote last week. (On the panel were Judges Paul V. Niemeyer and M. Blane Michael, as well as Senior Judge Clyde H. Hamilton.)

The appeals court gave Legg — or rather, his court — 60 days to act on the Rule 60(b) motion.

Have any of you federal practitioners out there seen similar delays?

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor, Law