Hand Sanitizer Spurs Class Claims Over Promise to Kill 99.9% of Germs

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

sanitizing-5095967_1280On July 7, 2020, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against hand sanitizer manufacturer, Vi-Jon Inc., alleging that the defendant actively misled consumers by advertising its products as capable of killing 99.9% of germs.

In the complaint, named plaintiff Anthony Moreno described how Vi-Jon manufactures, advertises and labels numerous hand-sanitizing products sold under various brand names including CVS Health, Equate (Walmart’s in-house brand), Germ-X and Walgreens’ brand hand sanitizer. Each of the defendant’s sanitizer products included a front label which states that the product kills 99.9% of germs.

The plaintiff argues that the products misrepresent their germ-killing capabilities and that the labeling is highly misleading. According to the complaint, the defendant’s hand sanitizers are substantially ineffective against certain microbes including certain non-enveloped viruses, such as norovirus and protozoa, microbes that cause toxoplasmosis and bacteria spores like those that cause C. difficle.

The complaint goes on to claim that the active ingredient in the products, ethyl alcohol, cannot readily denature certain microbes. Further, although most alcohol-based hand sanitizers can deactivate enveloped viruses, non-enveloped viruses and microbes with a hard protein shell are far more difficult for the products to denature.

The plaintiff seeks to represent a class made up of all citizens of the U.S. who, within the relevant statute of limitations periods, purchased defendant’s products. The suit brings causes of action for unfair and unlawful Business Acts and Practices, Deceptive Advertising Practices, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Breach of Express Warranty and Quasi-Contract.

The case is: Moreno v. Vi-Jon Inc., Case No.: 3:20-cv-01446, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.


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