In October we discussed a New Jersey bill that, if passed into law, would reduce penalties for some companies that commit technical violations of the state's Consumer Fraud Act. One aspect of the bill, which you can read more about in our previous post, allows companies to avoid having to pay plaintiffs' legal fees and other costs if the violation in question did not result in loss to the consumer.
The question of consumer loss will come up in a class-action lawsuit that was recently filed in New Jersey. The lawsuit claims that some of the biggest manufacturers of deodorants in the U.S. mislabeled and falsely marketed products as "unscented" and hypoallergenic when the products really contained fragrances.
The misleading labels have targeted consumers with skin and smell sensitivity, according to the lawsuit, and those consumers' purchasing decisions have been based on the belief that the products did not contain fragrances. However, the lawsuit states that chemicals with fragrances are included in the "unscented" products' ingredients.
It was noted that many consumers likely haven't tried to return their mislabeled deodorants because the products are relatively inexpensive, and the process of returning a single, inexpensive item is a bother. The lawsuit, which accuses the manufacturers of violating consumer protection laws in multiple states, has been brought on behalf of any consumer who has bought a distinctly scented deodorant that was labeled "unscented."
An article in Daily Finance lists the manufacturers and brands named in the lawsuit.
For more on consumer advocacy class actions, please visit our trade regulation overview.