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Judge Limits Safeway Class Action Ruling

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A class action ruling against Safeway applies only to customers who registered on the grocery chain's website as of 2006, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar amended his partial summary judgment in a case accusing the company of marking up prices for home-delivered groceries purchased online. The amendment was in response to a motion to reconsider Safeway filed after the original partial summary judgment was granted on Dec. 10, 2014.

Lead plaintiff Michael Rodman claimed that Safeway's terms of agreement for online purchases said that customers will pay the same prices as in a brick and mortar store. But he claimed that the company overcharged by at least 10 percent for most home-delivered items.

Tigar sided with Rodman in December, ruling the company breached its contract.

But Safeway argued that the judge's order erroneously stated that it had breached its contract with all the class members. Safeway said the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment referred only to a contract on Safeway's website posted in 2006.

While Rodman did submit versions of the contract that Safeway posted before 2006, they "were not placed before the court by plaintiff's initial motion for summary judgment and defendant thus did not have sufficient notice that plaintiff sought summary judgment that Safeway breached the contract with class members who registered prior to 2006," Tigar ruled.

He also granted Safeway's claim regarding damages. Though the initial summary judgment concluded that the "aggregate amount of the online mark-up" was the appropriate measure of damages, the plaintiff did not adequately argue that point.

"Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment did not make any argument as to why the aggregate amount was the appropriate measure of damages, beyond the conclusory statement that 'Plaintiff and the Class are entitled to recovery the full aggregate amount of the charged markup by Safeway,'" the judge wrote.

The plaintiffs may still seek summary judgment on the measure and amount of damages in the future.

Contact Arvin Temkar at [email protected]

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