Much At Stake For Industry In Pending 'Natural' Class-Action Appeals
This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet
Mayer Brown partner Dale Giali says a number of proposed class actions concerning "natural" food claims are pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, following lower-court decisions dismissing the suits, denying class certification and/or granting summary judgment to defendants. Their outcomes could be significant in shaping the course of related litigation going forward in the personal-care industry and others.
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A putative class action in California’s Northern District alleges that KMF’s “nourish naturally” claim on body wash and lotion packaging is deceptive due to the presence of synthetic ingredients that the Federal Trade Commission cited in actions against skin-care marketers last year. Importantly, however, the FTC cases targeted “all-natural” or “100% natural” assertions, as opposed to unqualified “natural” references.
Regulatory and legal challenges have not held back J&J/Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair business, which has been joined by a Rapid Tone Repair line and Rapid Clear acne treatments. Meanwhile, new Aveeno Absolutely Ageless products similarly provide results in just one week, the company says.
Companies targeted with class actions should avail themselves of every opportunity to contest plaintiff claims throughout the process, attorneys emphasized in a recent Council for Responsible Nutrition webinar. Fear of having to pay out exorbitant damages often compels firms to settle when they may have other options, they suggested, urging companies to consider "the long view."