I lost but I’m not licked, says Tucson's ice cream crusader

2014-02-07T16:00:00Z 2014-07-13T15:49:44Z I lost but I’m not licked, says Tucson's ice cream crusaderBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

He lost the battle, but Tucsonan Gerald Morris says his war with a grocer over ice cream advertisements isn’t over.

“This small-claims case was just a battle,” Morris, 71, said about his lawsuit against The Kroger Co., owner of Fry’s Food and Drug.

In December, Morris filed the small-claims suit against the company in Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, accusing it of misleading the public in advertisements for ice cream and other frozen dairy products.

He had his day in court last month but recently received word that the hearing officer ruled against him.

The brief judgment said Morris had failed to prove his case.

“Fry’s is pleased with the outcome,” Kroger Vice President Kyle McKay said.

Morris said he’s happy with the outcome as well, saying his case has brought to light an issue of fairness and honesty. “It’s a consumer victory,” he said.

As result of his advocacy and lawsuit, unsuccessful as it was, Morris said the store’s printed advertisements now accurately reflect measurements of volume and not weight, which was the basis of his claim.

Fry’s was one of numerous grocers that made references to ice cream products in dry-ounce measurements as opposed to gallons, quarts, pints and their fluid-ounce subdivisions.

McKay said the advertisements now do show the products in such terms, but added that regulations allow the store to use generic terms like “ounces” in reference to ice cream products if the meaning is obvious.

In court, McKay argued that most people realize ice cream is packed by volume and that no one expects to purchase it by the pound.

That’s a point of difference Morris still has with Kroger and its Fry’s stores. He said people need to be certain they are getting what they pay for.

“Consumers need to be able to trust,” he said adding it would be the same if people found they were getting only a fraction of the gasoline they paid for.

Morris said he intends to continue with his consumer advocacy. He’s started a website called Icecreamconsumer.weebly.com  where people can learn about his issues with how ice cream has been advertised and other consumer tips. The site is under construction, but Morris intends to have it completed soon.

He also hasn’t ruled out taking his case to a higher court, as the small-claims hearing officer suggested.

“My thrust is to get people aware,” he said. “I’ve won the war but l lost the battle.”

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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