Unilever Seeks End To Litigation Over St. Ives Scrub, Plaintiffs’ ‘Fake Medical Condition’
This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet
In April 2017, Unilever failed to dismiss a putative class action in California’s Central District alleging that its St. Ives Apricot Scrub is unfit for sale due to the potential of its crushed walnut shells to cause “microtears” in skin. Now the firm seeks summary judgment in the matter, maintaining that plaintiffs are relying on “junk science” to assert the possibility of a made-up medical condition.
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Federal judge says plaintiffs “have at best shown that St. Ives Scrub could, in theory, alter the skin’s surface.” Drug and device law attorney says the complaint "is not really a labeling issue” and the court applied “a healthy dose of common sense” in ruling.
St. Ives owner lays into a putative class action denouncing the brand’s Apricot Scrub as “completely worthless” and suggesting that it damages users’ skin, contrary to claims. According to Unilever’s motion for dismissal, the plaintiffs have styled a product liability complaint as a false advertising suit in order to recover damages for a nationwide class of purchasers, but lack standing and plausibility in their claims.
If it’s successful, a class action against Unilever in California could pose a wider “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for marketers of cosmetic cleansers. With plastic microbeads’ use in such products now banned in the US, companies are racing to replace the ingredients with natural exfoliants such as walnut shell powder, which the plaintiffs say is damaging to skin and unfit for use in St. Ives Apricot Scrub.