L’Oréal USA, Inc. and subsidiary Matrix Essentials, LLC failed to convince a New York federal judge to dismiss false advertising and consumer fraud class action claims in which buyers of keratin shampoos and sprays allege they were defrauded by the defendants’ misrepresentations.
New York resident Brandi Price and California resident Christine Chadwick brought the lawsuit in January, seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who bought L’Oréal’s Matrix Biolage Keratindose Pro-Keratin + Silk Shampoo, Pro-Keratin + Silk Conditioner, or Pro-Keratin Renewal Spray in the past three years. Keratin is a naturally occurring protein that works to protect hair cells. The women claim they were fooled by the Keratindose products because the products promised keratin – but delivered none.
L’Oréal and Matrix engaged in “false, deceptive and misleading” marketing by communicating to consumers through the labels and online promotions that the products are formulated with keratin and will confer the benefits of keratin treatments, according to the suit. “In reality, the Keratindose products do not contain any keratin at all and are incapable of providing the claimed benefits of keratin to the consumer,” the lawsuit alleges.
Remarkably, L’Oréal and Matrix failed to mention the missing keratin ingredient and instead argued that the plaintiffs failed to identify any false or misleading statement upon which consumers relied.
The plaintiffs countered that the cosmetics giants intentionally deceived consumers by incorporating the word “keratin” into the Keratindose brand name despite knowing that the products lack keratin.
On October 5, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield refused to dismiss the false advertising and consumer fraud claims, saying that consumers were plausibly misled.
“The fact that the advertisements did not use the word ‘keratin’ in isolation and instead used the word ‘Pro-keratin’ does not change the analysis,” the judge said. “It is unclear what ‘Pro-keratin’ is and, given the inclusion of the word ‘keratin’ and the characterization of the shampoo, for example, as ‘our keratin shampoo,’ defendants plausibly misrepresented that the products contain keratin.”
Price and Chadwick seek statutory damages and restitution for all consumers who were deceived by the false and fraudulent statements that the Keratindose products were formulated with keratin.
The plaintiffs are represented by Jason Thompson and Rod Johnston of Sommers Schwartz PC, along with Jason Brown and Patrick Almonrode of JTB Law Group LLC, Rachel Soffin and Jonathan Cohen of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, Nick Suciu III of Barbat Mansour & Suciu PLLC, and Greg Coleman of Greg Coleman Law PC.