As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States, consumers are relying heavily on cleaning supplies and accompanying advertising of the products’ germ-killing capabilities. On July 31, 2020, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against Edgewell Personal Care Company, manufacturer of the popular Wet Ones hand wipes, alleging that the defendant misled consumers in representing that the product kills 99.9% of germs.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Lauren Souter alleges that the defendant’s representations on the label of its Wet Ones wipes—that they are hypoallergenic, gentle on skin and that they kill 99.9% of germs—are false and misleading statements. The suit claims that the defendant omits critical information concerning the germ-killing ability of the product.
The plaintiff states in the complaint that the active ingredient in Wet Ones wipes. benzalkonium chloride (“BAC”), is known to be ineffective against non-enveloped viruses, certain gram-negative bacteria and spores. The suit argues that had the products’ labels displayed accurate information, consumers would have been able to ascertain the wipes were ineffective and would have had the opportunity to seek out alternative cleaning methods.
Additionally, the plaintiff argues that the defendant’s representation that the product is hypoallergenic, tough on dirt and germs and yet gentle on skin, is also false and misleading because the product allegedly contains numerous known irritants, allergens and toxins. The plaintiff points out that the active ingredient in BAC is a known skin irritant and has been found to cause allergic contact dermatitis. Further, the third most prevalent inactive ingredient in the product, phenoxyethanol, is a recognized allergen and toxin.
The plaintiff seeks to represent a class made up of all citizens of the U.S. who, within the relevant statute of limitations, purchased the defendant’s products. The suit brings causes of action for unfair and unlawful business acts and practices, deceptive advertising practices, violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, breach of express warranty and quasi contract.
The case is: Souter v. Edgewell Personal Care Co. et al., case number 3:20-cv-01486, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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