Judge Gives Green Light to ChapStick 'All Natural' False Advertising Claims Lawsuit

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A California Judge Certified A Class Action Lawsuit Accusing ChapStick Of False Advertising, But Denied A Class Seeking Damages

ChapStick, one the world’s most popular manufacturers of, you guessed it, chapstick, will have to face charges it falsely called its products “all natural” and said they were "naturally sourced" after an Oakland judge sided with consumers by certifying a class action lawsuit.

Reuters reported that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White certified one class of ChapStick customers seeking an injunction from GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, which were behind the original ChapStick brand, for the company’s advertising, but declined to certify another class seeking damages. 

Judge White said the consumers had not proven how much the alleged false marketing caused them to overspend on the chapsticks, which the consumers say are made with synthetic or highly processed ingredients.

The lawsuit

California resident Lisa Moore filed the class action lawsuit in 2020 alleging violations of California consumer protection and business laws, saying ChapStick misled consumers by labeling six of its product lines as natural when they weren’t. The products included:

  • ChapStick 100% Natural Lip Butter
  • ChapStick Total Hydration 100% Natural Lip Balm
  • ChapStick Total Hydration Essential Oils Lip Balm
  • ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint Lip Balm
  • Total Hydration Moisture + Tint SPF 15 Lip Balm
  • ChapStick Total Hydration Natural Lip Scrub.

Legal Newsline reported that the chapsticks contain citric acid and hydrogenated soybean oil, as well as other unnatural ingredients, damaging consumers who had believed the ingredients were “all natural” as advertised. 

What the certification means

The case can now continue, and attorneys for the consumers told Reuters the decision “will propel the case forward to trial.” They said they thought they could “easily cure” the issues that stopped the class seeking damages from being certified. 

However, the companies have previously argued, and will likely continue to, that reasonable consumers would not be misled by the packaging claims, and would understand ingredients need to be added and processed to make chapstick given its not found in nature.

Not ChapStick’s first legal fight

ChapStick, which was recently bought by personal care brand Suave for $510 million, Reuters reported, faced a separate proposed class action lawsuit in 2019 for alleged misleading marketing. 

Consumers argued that the company said on the front packing that sunscreen products gave protection from the sun for eight hours, while the back of the package said the chapsticks actually provide protection for only two hours, Truth in Advertising reported

In 2021, a judge ruled that the lawsuit’s argument was “inconsistent with the package and with common sense,” dismissing the case in its entirety, Bloomberg Law reported.

Consumers in this latest class action lawsuit will be hoping for a very different outcome. If you have purchased ChapStick products under the guise they were made of all natural ingredients, you could be eligible to join the case.

The plaintiff and proposed class are represented by Ryan Clarkson and Katherine Bruce of Clarkson Law Firm.

The ChapStick false advertising class action lawsuit is Moore et al. v. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Holdings (US) LLC et al., Case No. 4:20-cv-09077 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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