Lawsuit dismissed against Traeger over wood pellets claim

Salem, Ore. • A district court judge has dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit against barbecue grill manufacturer Traeger Pellet Grills, deciding the defendants failed to establish the court has jurisdiction.

U.S. District Court Judge Bruce Jenkins of Utah dismissed without prejudice the suit filed by plaintiffs Michael Yates and Norman Jones that alleged Traeger Pellet Grills doesn’t use the wood advertised in its pellets and instead uses cheaper woods flavored with oils, the Statesman Journal reports.

Additionally, Jenkins found it was premature to present the case to the court.

"No class has been certified here," Jenkins wrote in his opinion. "Accordingly, this suggestion is premature in the sense that there is no class presently before the court."

Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, it could be refiled in another court.

Pellet grills work differently than normal wood or charcoal-burning grills as they heat wood pellets to create smoke to cook food.

The Traeger family of Mt. Angel, which developed the first pellet grill in 1985 and patented it in 1986, sold the company to a venture capitalist in Florida in 2006 for $12.4 million, court records show.

The company was purchased by Jeremy Andrus and private equity firm Trilantic Capital Partners in 2014 and moved its headquarters to Utah from Oregon in 2015. But the company is a Delaware limited liability company headquartered in Salt Lake City, according to the ruling.

The proposed class action in Utah district court alleged Traeger sells 14 different types of wood in the pellets it sells as the Traeger Brand.

The suit alleged the pellets the company sells as apple, cherry, pecan, mesquite and hickory contain less than 1/3 of the advertised wood and the oak and alder pellets contain varying amounts of the advertised woods depending on where they are manufactured.

It alleged the wood used was flavored with oils to create the flavor of the advertised woods.

Traeger has used its same production process the past 16 years, according to the company.

Traeger's advertising says it uses "100% natural, food-grade hardwood" in pellets, with small amounts of food-grade soybean oil added as a lubricant for its machines in the pellets.

The pellets sold under the Traeger brand state “All Natural Hardwood” on the packaging.

The Yates case purported that consumers who purchased Traeger pellets were financially harmed by paying over the actual market value of the products.