By Caitlin Tremblay
NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - An Australian teenager's picture of a Subway "Footlong" sandwich next to a tape measure has gone viral and inspired three lawsuits in the United States.
The lawsuits, one filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, a second in New Jersey Superior Court, Burlington County, and the third in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, each claims restaurant franchise sells sandwiches that are an inch short of a foot.
Given the millions of subs sold each year in the United States, damages could be more than $5 million, said Thomas Zimmerman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Chicago case.
"This is no different than buying a dozen eggs and getting 11," Zimmerman said. "You're buying a dozen inches and only getting 11."
The lawsuits, which are seeking class-action status, are also suing for compensatory damages and injunctive relief for deceptive advertising against Subway sandwich shops and Subway's parent company, Doctor's Associates Inc.
"We have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve," Subway spokeswoman Alison Goldberg said in a statement. "Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide."
Subway Australia, responding to the photo posted on Subway's Facebook fanpage, had said that said the Footlong was a registered trademark that was "not intended to be a measurement of length."
Legal experts said Subway may argue that the average length of the Footlong is 12 inches and that only some fall short. (Reporting by Caitlin Tremblay; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)