MONEY

Get your money! State’s deadline for tuna, chicken refunds approaching

Jun 4, 2024, 6:24 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm

Photo: A $100 bill...

Time is running out to submit a claim for a chicken and canned tuna lawsuit filed by the Washington State AG's Office. (File photo: Matt Slocum, AP)

(File photo: Matt Slocum, AP)

Time is running out to submit a claim for a chicken and canned tuna lawsuit filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s (AG) Office. The AG’s Office sued over 20 corporations that make and sell chicken and canned tuna because, according to the office’s website, the companies secretly agreed to raise the prices, violating state and federal laws that encourage market competition.

The corporations have had to pay the AG’s Office over $40 million which is being returned to consumers who meet the criteria. To be eligible: consumers must live in Washington and have an income no greater than 175% of the federal poverty level. Single households will get a $50 check and households with two or more will get a $120 check.

The AG’s Office stated those who believe they are eligible but haven’t received a refund should submit a claim. The deadline is Wednesday, June 5. To submit a claim, go here.

However, the AG’s Office started sending out checks last December.

Previous coverage: Checks are out to 400,000 Wash. households from $40M price-fixing settlement

“When powerful interests break the law and harm Washingtonians, my office holds them accountable,” AG Bob Ferguson stated, stressing the importance of this restitution. “Washington families were cheated by corporate price-fixing conspiracies they knew nothing about.”

The refunds are specifically targeted to aid those Washingtonians most affected by the price-fixing schemes, Ferguson said. Examples provided by the AG’s Office include various family structures and income brackets, offering relief to those struggling due to corporate malpractice.

Ferguson faces criticism for refund disbursement

However, in January, Ferguson faced criticism for sending checks to dead people. Washington State Republican Representative Jim Walsh called out Ferguson for the process of distributing the refunds, saying they appear to be “sloppy and mismanaged.”

‘It’s not our list’: AG Bob Ferguson responds after state sent checks to dead people

Walsh called the money being sent out the “Fishy Fergie Checks.”

“Quite a few people who’ve been deceased for years or decades are getting the checks,” Walsh said.

Walsh claimed the number of people who contacted him about long-dead relatives receiving checks is in the hundreds. He also stated there are cases where non-low-income residents are getting refunds.

“It’s not exactly clear what mailing list or database the state attorney general is using to send the checks out,” Walsh added.

KIRO Newsradio asked Ferguson what went wrong.

“We worked with Experian, so it’s not our list,” Ferguson said. “We went to a data broker or somebody who would have, what we believed, to be as reliable a list as can exist for sending out 400,000 checks to Washingtonians. Obviously, on a data set that large, the system’s not going to be perfect.”

But there was something else that was raising eyebrows. Ferguson’s name is on the check and, on an accompanying note, that’s being distributed at a time when he’s running for governor.

“A cynic would say that he did this thing in an attempt to get his name on checks to people to encourage them to support his gubernatorial campaign,” Walsh said.

Ferguson said his name is only on the check so recipients know it’s a real government check, not part of a scam.

Around 402,200 Washington households are set to receive the reimbursements, benefitting over 1.2 million residents, constituting around 15% of the state’s population.

For any questions regarding the lawsuit and refund process, email refundcheck@agt.wa.gov, write to the Distribution Administrator, P.O. Box 91485, Seattle, WA 98111 or call 866-601-1516.

Contributing: Matt Markovich, KIRO Newsradio

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X or email her here.

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Get your money! State’s deadline for tuna, chicken refunds approaching