Gerber named in class action lawsuit over false and captive advertising of its Good Start baby product

The complaint alleges a pattern of deceptive and unfair business practices by Gerber Products Company in the marketing and sale of Good Start, a line of infant formula made with whey-protein concentrate that Defendant produces, distributes, markets, and sells.

The Complaint challenging deceptive and misleading representations that Defendant made in promoting and selling Good Start. Beginning in 2011, Defendant has claimed in advertising and product labeling that: (a) Good Start is the first and only formula whose consumption reduces the risk of infants developing allergies, and (b) Good Start is the first and only formula that the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) endorses to reduce the risk of developing certain allergies, such as atopic dermatitis.

Due to Defendant’s deceptive representations that Good Start provided health benefits beyond the benefits other baby formulas offered, and Defendant’s misleading representations that the FDA had unqualifiedly certified its health claims, Plaintiff and the Class were injured by purchasing Good Start at an inflated cost.

The Procter & Gamble Company named in class action over deceptively advertising pampers as clear and natural

Pampers

Procter & Gamble prominently labels, markets and advertises its Pampers baby wipes (“Pampers Wipes” or the “Product”) as “natural.” This claim is false, deceptive and likely to mislead a reasonable person because Pampers Wipes contains chemicals that are synthetic, not natural. These chemicals can also cause skin irritation and other problems. Parents seeking natural products for their babies are not receiving the product promised them, but instead are purchasing a mis-branded product containing synthetic chemicals. These chemicals include dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, and ethyhexyl glycerin.

Proctor & Ganmble 7-14-16

Playtex named in class action lawsuit over mispresenting SPF of Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 sunscreen

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This is a proposed class action, brought on behalf of all those who purchased Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 in the United States between June 27, 2010 and the present.

As alleged in the complaint, Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 purports, in both the product name and in several prominent places on the product label, to have an “SPE” of 50, the maximum amount of SPF protection which the law allows a sunscreen product to claim.

SPF, which stands for “Sun Protection Factor, is an objectively verifiable and scientifically measurable level of sunburn protection provided by a sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the more UV radiation is filtered out and the more protection is provided.

The complaint claims that despite the inclusion of the words “SPF 50” in the name of the product itself, and despite the fact that the uniformly-worded product label states in several places that the product has an “SPF 50, rigorous scientific testing has revealed that Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 has an actual SPF of only 8.; a significantly lower level of sunscreen protection.

Ralph Lauren named in class action lawsuit over false advertisement of market prices, and phantom “savings,” on clothing sold in its retail outlet stores

ralph-lauren

 

The class action lawsuit accuses Ralph Lauren of false and misleading advertisement of “market” prices, and corresponding phantom “savings,” on clothing and fashion apparel sold in its retail outlet stores.

The complaint alleges that defendants continually misled consumers by advertising clothing and fashion apparel at discounted, “savings” prices. Defendants would compare the “sale” prices to false “market” prices, which were misrepresented as the “market” retail prices from which the “savings” was discounted. The advertised discounts were nothing more than mere phantom mark-downs because the represented market prices were artificially inflated and were not the original or “market” prices for clothing and fashion apparel sold at Defendants’ retail outlet stores. In addition, the represented “market” prices were not the prevailing marketing retail prices within three months next immediately preceding the publication of the advertised former prices, as required by California law.

As further alleged, Ralph Lauren would disseminate their deceptive pricing scheme to consumers through promotional materials, in-store displays, and print advertisements. For example, in Defendants’ retail outlet stores, the pricing scheme is prominently displayed, advertising deep discounts, including “40% off” various items throughout the store.

In truth, the purported “market prices” never existed and/or did not constitute the prevailing market retail prices for such products within the three months immediately preceding the publication of the sales tag. The difference between the “sale” and “regular” prices is a false savings percentage used to lure consumers into purchasing products they believe are significantly discounted.

FTC issues warning Letters to 45 contact lens prescribers and 10 contact lens sellers warning them of potential violations of the agency’s Contact Lens Rule

FTC

 

According to the law, an eye doctor must give the consumer a contact lens prescription after a fitting. It’s the law. The Contact Lens Rule is intended to facilitate the ability of consumers to comparison shop for contact lenses while ensuring that sales occur only in accordance with a valid prescription.  Under the Rule, prescribers fitting patients for contact lenses are required to give them their prescription at the end of the fitting. Prescribers also are prohibited from charging additional fees for releasing the prescription and from obligating a patient either to buy contact lenses from them, or to sign a waiver, before releasing a prescription.

Sellers may provide contact lenses to consumers only after either obtaining a copy of a valid prescription or, alternatively, verifying the prescription with the prescriber. Sellers may not dispense lenses using an expired prescription, and may only substitute lenses under certain conditions, as specified in the Rule.

The letters issued by the FTC warn the prescribers and sellers that violations of the Rule may result in legal action, including civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

Has this happened to you? Share your story or contact us directly to inquire about your legal rights.

The FTC on Super (un)natural product claims

In a recent post by Seena Gressin, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, we get a glimpse of the FTC’s view of “natural”

For lovers of word-association games: what words leap to mind when you think of “all natural” ingredients?

Did you pick “Dimethicone,” “Phenoxyethanol,” or “Polyethylene”? Perhaps “Butyloctyl alicylate,” “Polyquaternium-37,” or “Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate”? No? Well, not to worry — you haven’t lost the game. But five companies that tagged products that contained one or more of these ingredients as “all natural” or “100% natural” are now rethinking their strategy.

The FTC alleged the companies misrepresented their personal care products — including sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels — by describing them as “all natural” or “100% natural” when they contained one or more synthetic ingredients.

According to the FTC, the claims showed up in product names, such as “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion,” sold under the trade name ShiKai by Trans-India Products, Inc., of Santa Rosa, Calif., and “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixir,” sold under the trade name EDEN BodyWorks by ABS Consumer Products, LLC, of Memphis, Tenn.

The FTC said the claims also showed up in product ads. For example, The Erickson Marketing Group Inc., of Arvada, Colo., which uses the trade name Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, and California Naturel, Inc., of Sausalito, Calif., both advertised their sunscreens as “all natural,” while Beyond Coastal, of Salt Lake City, touted its sunscreen as “100% natural.”

Four of the companies have agreed to proposed orders that would prohibit them from claiming that any product is 100% natural unless they have reliable evidence to back up the claim. The orders also would require them to have proof for any claims they make about the products’ environmental or health benefits. The Commission issued a complaint against the fifth company, California Naturel, seeking the same relief.

How can you avoid being burned by misleading “all natural” claims for sunscreen and other products? Take the claims with a non-synthetic grain of salt, check out the ingredients list on the package, and please visit our website for information about shopping for products that claim to have health or beauty benefits.

 

According to the FTC, each of the following companies made the all-natural claim in online ads:

  • Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, California, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” both directly and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com. The lotion contains Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, and Phenoxyethanol. The gel contains Phenoxyethanol.
  • Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, based in Aravada, Colorado, uses its website to promote “all natural” products such as the “Natural Face Stick,” which contains Dimethicone, Polyethylene, and other synthetic ingredients.
  • ABS Consumer Products, LLC, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, Tennessee, markets haircare products on its own websites and at Walmart.com. It makes “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo.” In reality, the products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as Polyquaternium-37, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Polyquaternium-7.
  • Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses its website to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” However, it also contains Dimethicone.
  • California Naturel, Inc., located in Sausalito, California, sells supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its website, though the product contains Dimethicone. The Commission has issued a complaint alleging that California Naturel has made deceptive “all natural” claims in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.

The proposed consent orders bar the four settling respondents from misrepresenting the following when advertising, promoting, or selling a product: 1) whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural; 2) the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of a product; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of a product.

The orders require the respondents to have and rely on competent and reliable evidence to support any product claims they make. Some claims require scientific evidence, which is defined as tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated objectively by qualified individuals using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

More information can be found at the FTC website. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/super-unnatural-product-claims?utm_source=govdelivery

Do you use a product that claims to be all natural, but isn’t? Share with your fellow readers or contact us to take action.

 

RelayRides named in a class action suit over illegal charges

RelayRides-Logo-300x200

RelayRides is in the business of connecting customers seeking to rent an automobile with automobile owners seeking to provide their personal or business automobiles for rent. RelayRides’ customers must create an account on RelayRides website and, much like with a traditional car-rental company, can then browse through and select a desired car to rent, the time period for the rental, and the method of payment.

As alleged, RelayRides charges penalty “Admin. Fees” to rake in extra money from its customers. RelayRides charges its customers twice, once for the purported damage that they may have caused and once more as a penalty for having caused the damage. Because the “Admin. Fees” have nothing to do with any damage RelayRides may suffer from a customer’s breach of contract, the “Admin. Fees” are a windfall for Defendant.

Plaintiff brings this case as a class action challenging Defendant RelayRides, Inc.’s imposition of penalty “Admin. Fees” on its car-rental customers in violation of California Civil Code § 1671(d) and other provisions of California law.

Plaintiff and the members of the proposed plaintiff class are individuals nationwide who (1) were RelayRides customers who used RelayRides services any time before November 2015 and incurred an Admin. Fee and (2) RelayRides customers who used RelayRides at any time and incurred an Admin. Fee and timely opted-out of RelayRides’ recent arbitration provision added to its website’s terms of service.

Class Action Complaint

 

 

Honest named in class action lawsuit alleging products contain hidden sodium lauryl sulfate

 

honestlogo-4596231104

As alleged, Honest claims to be a consumer goods company that is “free from fraud or deception” because it is “genuine, real” and “respectable, praiseworthy.” The truth is, however, that Honest is effectively a marketing company. It gets its products from other manufacturers and then places the “Honest” label on them. It uses the “Honest” brand name, which is the subject of numerous federal trademark and service mark registrations and applications, as a marketing strategy to convey to consumers that the Company’s business practices and products are honest, truthful, and “free from fraud or deception.” In so doing, Honest intends for consumers, in making their purchasing decisions, to rely on this overall commercial impression conveyed by the “Honest” brand name.

Chief among Honest’s specific claims are that its products do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate (“SLS”). Honest highlights the absence of SLS because, according to Honest itself, SLS is a “known irritant. This is so well known, in fact, that it’s commonly used in lab testing to intentionally harm skin.”

According to the complaint, Defendants’ claims concerning the absence of SLS are untrue and misleading. As Defendants admit, Honest’s multi-surface cleaner, laundry detergent, and dish soap contain an ingredient called sodium coco sulfate (“SCS”). SLS is a major ingredient in SCS and many scientists treat SLS and SCS as interchangeable. In fact, independent testing has found that Honest’s laundry detergent contains the same amount of SLS as Proctor & Gamble Co.’s laundry detergent, Tide.

Plaintiff and California consumers were misled by Defendants’ statements regarding the absence of SLS from Honest’s products, and the use of the “Honest” brand name for Defendants’ products, and bought these products based on these false, misleading, and deceptive representations. Accordingly, Plaintiff and the Class (as defined herein) have suffered injury as a result of Defendants’ false advertising, warranty breaches, misbranding, and unlawful marketing of Honest’s products, and brings this class action to remedy Defendants’ unlawful acts.

Class Action Complaint

Paleohacks named in class action lawsuit over failure to disclose and properly inform consumers about the company’s use of automatic renewal or continuous service offers

paleohacks

Plaintiff brings this class action on behalf all persons in the United States who, within the applicable statute of limitations period, purchased subscriptions for any products (such as Paleo snack products) from Paleohacks, LLC

As alleged, Defendant made automatic renewal or continuous service offers to consumers in and throughout the United States and failed to provide an acknowledgment that includes the automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms, cancellation policy, and information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer in violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17602(a)(3) and 17602(b).

The Complaint claims that as a result, all goods, wares, merchandise, or products sent to Plaintiff and Class Members under the automatic renewal of continuous service agreements are deemed to be an unconditional gift pursuant to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17603.

 

Mercedes named in class action lawsuit over sale of “BlueTEC Clean Diesel” vehicles for emitting more pollutants than allowed by federal and state laws

Mercedes-Benz-logo

The complaint alleges that in the wake of the major scandal involving Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles evading emissions standards with the help of certain software that turns off emissions controls when the vehicles are not being tested, reports now indicate that Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC’s (Mercedes)’ so called “Clean Diesel” vehicles emit far more pollution on the road than in lab tests. Real world testing has recently revealed that these vehicles emit dangerous oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at a level more than 65 times higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency permits. The Mercedes “Clean Diesel” turns out to be far from “clean.”

Diesel engines pose a difficult challenge to the environment because they have an inherent trade-off between power, fuel efficiency, and emissions. Compared to gasoline engines, diesel engines generally produce greater torque, low-end power, better drivability and much higher fuel efficiency. But these benefits come at the cost of much dirtier and more harmful emissions.

One by-product of diesel combustion is NOx, which generally describes several compounds comprised of nitrogen and oxygen atoms. These compounds are formed in the cylinder of the engine during the high temperature combustion process. NOx pollution contributes to nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter in the air, and reacts with sunlight in the atmosphere to form ozone. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with serious health dangers, including serious respiratory illnesses and premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. The United States Government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has passed and enforced laws designed to protect United States citizens from these pollutants and certain chemicals and agents known to cause disease in humans. Automobile manufacturers must abide by these U.S. laws and must adhere to EPA rules and regulations.

In order to produce a diesel engine that has desirable torque and power characteristics, good fuel economy, and emissions levels low enough to meet the stringent European and United States governmental emission standards, Mercedes developed the BlueTEC™ diesel engine. The BlueTEC name is a general trade name used to describe a number of in-cylinder and after-treatment technologies used to reduce emissions. The primary emission control after-treatment technologies include a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system. The DPF traps and removes particulate (soot) emissions, while the SCR system facilitates a chemical reaction to reduce NOx into less harmful substances, such as nitrogen and oxygen.

In order to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, Mercedes vigorously markets its BlueTEC vehicles as “the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel” with “ultralow emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance” that emits “up to 30% lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.” Mercedes represents that its BlueTEC vehicles “convert[] the nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen and oxygen” and “reduces the nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gases by up to 90%.”

Additionally, Mercedes promotes its Clean Diesel vehicles as “Earth Friendly”: “With BlueTEC, cleaner emissions are now an equally appealing benefit.” In fact, Mercedes proclaims itself “#1 in CO2 emissions for luxury vehicles.”

These representations are deceptive and false. Mercedes has programmed its BlueTEC vehicles to turn off the NOx reduction systems when ambient temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Mercedes has admitted that a shut-off device in the engine management of certain BlueTEC diesel cars stops NOx cleaning under these and other, unspecified circumstances. On-road testing has confirmed that Mercedes’ so-called “Clean Diesel” cars produced NOx emissions at an average of 603 mg/km, which is 7.5 times the Euro 6 standard and 19 times higher than the U.S. standard. Some instantaneous NOx values were as high as 2000 mg/km—25 times the Euro 6 standard and 65 times higher than the U.S. limit.

As alleged, Mercedes manufactures, designs, markets, sells, and leases certain “BlueTEC Clean Diesel” vehicles as if they were “reduced emissions” cars that comply with all applicable regulatory standards, when in fact, these Mercedes vehicles are not “clean diesels” and emit more pollutants than allowed by federal and state laws—and far more than their gasoline fueled counterparts. On information and belief, Plaintiffs allege that the following Mercedes models powered by BlueTEC diesel fueled engines are affected by the unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and otherwise defective emission controls utilized by Mercedes: ML 320, ML 350, GL 320, E320, S350, R320, E Class, GL Class, ML Class, R Class, S Class, GLK Class, GLE Class, and Sprinter (the Affected Vehicles).

Mercedes did not previously disclose to Plaintiffs, consumers, or U.S. regulatory authorities that, when the temperature falls below 50 degrees, the Affected Vehicles spew unmitigated NOx into the air.

Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be “clean” diesels when it is warm, but are “dirty” diesels when it is not. Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people.

Plaintiffs bring this action individually and on behalf of all other current and former owners or lessees of Affected Vehicles. Plaintiffs seek damages, injunctive relief, and equitable relief for Mercedes’ misconduct related to the design, manufacture, marketing, sale, and lease of Affected Vehicles with unlawfully high emissions

COMPLAINT