Honest Company class action
June 30, 2017 – The Honest Company has agreed to settle a number of related consumer class actions brought by the firm. A $7.35 million fund will be established to compensate shoppers who said the company, co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, fraudulently labeled dozens of home and personal care products as natural, plant-based or chemical-free, and sold ineffective sunscreen. Firm partner Nicholas Carlin said “This is an excellent settlement, providing consumers with meaningful monetary relief and it requires Honest to be more honest in its marketing and labeling practices.” Under the agreement, which is subject to approval by the New York Federal Court judge overseeing the litigation, shoppers would receive a $2.50 payment or credit per eligible product, up to a maximum of 10 without proof of purchase and with no maximum if they have such proof. In addition, Honest will not be able to refer to its products as “all natural” or “100% natural,” and if it uses the term “natural,” it will be required to disclose whether the product meets certain regulatory definitions and testing standards. Honest also will no longer be allowed to say “no harsh chemicals, ever!” if the products contain certain specified ingredients. This settlement only involves false labeling, not personal injury. Anyone injured by severe sunburns or rashes or other reactions to Honest products will preserve their right to continue to pursue such claims. The cases are Michael v. The Honest Company, Inc. (filed Sept. 7, 2015), Buonasera v. The Honest Company, Inc. (filed Feb. 12, 2016), Kellman v. The Honest Company, Inc. (filed Apr. 27, 2016), and Hiddlestone v. The Honest Company, Inc. (Sept. 20, 2016).
UPDATE – July 10, 2017 – Federal district court judge Victor Marrero today granted the firm’s motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, setting a fairness hearing to determine whether the settlement should be finally approved for December 8, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Notice to class members is pending.
December 6, 2016 – In a significant victory for the firm today, Federal District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt ruled almost entirely in the firm’s favor on The Honest Company’s Motion to Dismiss in the firm’s consumer class action against the company. Plaintiffs alleged that Honest deceptively marketed and sold products as "natural" when in fact they contained synthetic, non-natural ingredients, and sold sunscreen as "effective" when it was not effective in preventing sunburns. In his order, Judge Kronstadt ruled that a reasonable consumer would be deceived by Honest’s labeling, as a consumer would read a “natural” label and assume that the product contains no synthetic or non-natural ingredients. Judge Kronstadt also upheld the firm’s breach of warranty claims and claims relating to other mislabeled "natural" products that plaintiffs did not directly purchase. The court also ruled that the Complaint adequately alleged the sunscreen claims. While Honest argued that “effective” is a vague and unspecific term and therefore could not misrepresent the ineffective sunscreen, Judge Kronstadt ruled that the express purpose of sunscreen is sun protection, and therefore a consumer would rely on the sunscreen for protection from the sun. The case, Shane Michaels v. Honest Company, Inc., is led by firm partner Nicholas A. Carlin and is pending in the Central District of California in Los Angeles. The matter’s next hearing before the court is set for March 20, 2017.
September 20, 2016 – Firm partner Nick Carlin today filed a second complaint against The Honest Company, Inc., brought on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers contending that The Honest Company misleadingly labeled and marketed certain products as natural, when in fact those products contain synthetic, non-natural ingredients. This second lawsuit adds products not included in the firm’s first complaint on the same subject; it also covers products bought both online and in actual stores. Products listed in the latest complaint include Honest Shampoo and Body Wash, Honest Conditioning Detangler, Honest Bubble Bath, and Honest Dishwasher Packs. These products were marketed as natural, the complaint says, inducing consumers to pay a premium for and use the products on the false premise they were “honest” when in fact they not only contained non-natural ingredients, but in some cases contain chemicals rated as either highly or moderately hazardous by the Environmental Working Group. Any consumer who purchased and used Honest Company products between Sept. 20, 2012 and the present may potentially be a class member.
August 26, 2016 – Firm Partner Nicholas Carlin was appointed today Co-Lead Interim Class Counsel today by Federal District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt in the firm’s consumer class action against The Honest Company. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit contend that The Honest Company, founded in 2011 by celebrity Jessica Alba and others, falsely advertised non-natural products as “natural” and that its sunscreen was not effective. The case, Shane Michael v. Honest Company, Inc., Case No. 2:15-cv-07059, is pending in the Central District of California in Los Angeles. The court has set a further hearing in the matter for March 20, 2017.
January 11, 2016 – Partner Nick Carlin appeared before Federal District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt in Los Angeles today in the false advertising case brought against The Honest Company by the firm in Sept. of last year. Judge Kronstadt set a date to hear The Honest Company’s expected motion to dismiss the firm’s complaint on behalf of a nationwide class of buyers of Honest Company products who say that The Honest Company marketed a host of such products as both “natural” and “effective” when, in fact, they were not. That complaint, recently consolidated with another legal action, was amended last week to add class plaintiffs, Honest Company products and legal claims. In an unexpected development, Judge Kronstadt allowed the firm’s clients to begin discovery into The Honest Company’s policies and practices in connection with their marketing and promotional claims. The case followed public reporting last year about sunscreen products that failed to work as advertised. The Court will hold its next hearing in the case in early May.
September 3, 2015 – Firm partner Nick Carlin today filed a class action complaint against The Honest Company, Inc. on behalf of plaintiff Jonathan D. Rubin and a putative class of consumers. The lawsuit contends that The Honest Company marketed a host of products (including hand and dish soap, diapers and sunscreen) as both natural and effective when, in fact, they were not. The Honest Company, backed by a group of influential venture capital investors as well as television and film star Jessica Alba, who serves as its “Chief Creative Officer” and celebrity spokesperson, was recently in the news when consumers took to the internet to complain that the company’s sunscreen (one of the subjects of Mr. Rubin’s action) was ineffective, leading several to experience severe sunburn and blistering. The complaint asks for a minimum of $5 million in damages and restitution as well as declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of a nationwide class of purchasers of these products.
Plaintiffs, led by PEG&C Firm Partner Nicholas Carlin and lawyers at Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, brought a class action lawsuit against The Honest Company for falsely advertising and labeling their products as “natural” and “effective,” when they are not, including Honest Hand Soap, Diapers, and Sunscreen.
The case, Shane Michael v. The Honest Company, Inc., follows public outcry and subsequent news reporting on The Honest Company, and is brought on behalf of any consumer who purchased and used Honest Company products between Sept. 20, 2012 and the present.