L’Oreal PFAS Lawsuit Again Shows ESG Risks of Marketing

By John Gardella CMBG3 Law CMBG3 Legal Resource

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

In less than six months, L’Oreal has now found itself to be the target of PFAS lawsuits related to its mascara products. The latest L’Oreal PFAS lawsuit was filed in the New Jersey federal court on April 8, 2022. Cosmetics and PFAS is a topic that saw increased scrutiny from the scientific community, legislature, and the media in 2021. As we predicted in early 2021, the increased attention on the industry presented significant risks to the cosmetics industry , and our prediction was that the developments made the cosmetics industry the number two target for future PFAS lawsuits. In less than three months, four industry giants – Shiseido, CoverGirl , L’Oreal and Burt’s Bees– were hit with lawsuits related to their cosmetics and PFAS content in some of the companies’ products.  The industry, insurers, and investment companies interested in the consumer goods vertical with niche interest in cosmetics companies must pay careful attention to the cosmetics lawsuits and the increasing trend of lawsuits targeting the industry.

On June 15, 2021, a scientific study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology Letters published conclusions regarding testing of a variety of cosmetics products from the United States and Canada for PFAS content, and found PFAS present in over half of the products. On the same day that the study was published, the No PFAS In Cosmetics Act 2021 was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Angus King (IME). The bill sought to ban PFAS in cosmetics. These two developments led us to conclude “with these developments, our prediction that cosmetics is the number two target for PFAS litigation issues behind water rings true.”

Why PFAS In Cosmetics 

Is A Concern PFAS content in cosmetics raises concerns for human health in scientific communities due to the fact that PFAS are capable of entering the bloodstream in ways other than direct oral ingestion, and one of these ways includes dermal absorption. Concerns have also been raised regarding absorption of PFAS into the bloodstream by way of tear ducts. The absorption issue is one that is being studied fairly extensively through various pending scientific studies. At the end of 2021, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) went so far as to recommend that citizens in Southern New Hampshire reduce their risk of further PFAS exposure by avoiding the use of certain consumer goods, including cosmetics.

L’Oreal PFAS Lawsuit 

On April 8, 2022, plaintiff Rebecca Vega filed a lawsuit in the New Jersey federal court seeking a proposed class action lawsuit against LOreal . The L’Oreal PFAS lawsuit alleges that the company does not disclose to consumers that its mascara and other products contain PFAS. Instead, the lawsuit states, the products were fraudulently and misleadingly marketed as safe for consumers and environmentally friendly, in violation of federal and state consumer laws. The Complaint details several examples of L’Oreal marketing indicating the safe nature of the products. The plaintiff seeks certification of the class action lawsuit, injunctive relief, damages, fees, costs and a jury trial. The proposed class is any consumer in the United States, or in the subclass of New Jersey, who purchased the relevant L’Oreal products.

Source: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/l-oreal-pfas-lawsuit-againshows-esg-risks-marketing