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SALT LAKE CITY — A California man filed a class-action lawsuit against a Utah grilling company last week, accusing it of selling watered-down pellets that don’t match the quality it promises.
Michael Yates, who identifies himself as an amateur griller from Livermore, California, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Oct. 1 on behalf of Traeger Pellet Grill customers. It comes as the Salt Lake City-based company remains embroiled in a legal battle with one of its competitors over trademark rights.
In the lawsuit, Yates alleges Traeger “wrongfully and unfairly deceived the public and its customers by misrepresenting that its wood pellets comprise one type of wood, when in fact the pellets comprise a different type of less expensive wood containing flavored oils to masquerade as more expensive, sought-after grilling woods.”
For example, Yates claims that the company’s hickory and mesquite wood BBQ pellets didn’t contain hickory or mesquite wood, but “less expensive wood” with hickory and mesquite flavored oils added to it, and that “the type of wood used in smoking and grilling is of utmost importance to backyard grillers and champion pitmasters alike.”
The retail price for Traeger wood pellets is $18.99 on the company’s website. The lawsuit states Yates is seeking “all actual, direct, incidental, statutory, consequential, punitive and exemplary damages to be determined at trial” for all defendants in the class action suit. There is also currently no estimate as to the number of potential plaintiffs in the suit.
KSL.com reached out to Traeger for comment but did not receive a response regarding the lawsuit by Tuesday evening.
Traeger is already involved in a different court case. The company secured an early win in its lawsuit against Arizona-based competitor Dansons last week when an Arizona judge granted a temporary injunction to Traeger. The injunction prevents Dansons from using Traeger's names on any of their products or advertisements. Dansons currently employs Traeger founder Joe Traeger and his son, Brian.
A Florida judge originally denied a similar injunction request against Joe and Brian Traeger. The Florida court then reversed the decision after the Arizona injunction was granted. It means neither Traeger can use his name in relation to grilling products and advertisements for the time being.
Traeger also announced Tuesday it had hired Todd Smith, former group brand director for Glaceau Vitaminwater, to be its chief marketing officer.