On January 20, 2023, Elizabeth Earl and Jeanette Rock, (“Plaintiffs”), represented by Carl V. Malmstrom of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLC, filed a class action insurance lawsuit against Unilever United States Inc. (“Defendant”), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with damages for alleged introducing, contaminating, adultering, and/or misbranding products containing dangerous amounts of benzene into the U.S. market. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, with Judge Martha M. Pacold presiding.
In the complaint, plaintiffs stated, “This is a class action lawsuit regarding Defendant’s manufacturing, distribution, and sale of antiperspirant/deodorant and dry shampoo products sold under various brands (‘Products’) that contain dangerously high levels of benzene, a carcinogenic impurity that has been linked to leukemia and other cancers.”
The plaintiffs then alleged, “These Products are not designed to contain benzene, and in fact no amount of benzene is acceptable in dry shampoo products such as the Products manufactured, distributed, and sold by Defendant. Thus, the presence of benzene in the Products renders them adulterated and misbranded, and therefore illegal to sell under both federal and state law. As a result, the Products are unsafe and illegal to sell under federal law, and therefore worthless.”
The plaintiffs also alleged, “although Defendant lists both active and inactive ingredients on the Products’ labels, benzene is not among those ingredients listed. Thus, Defendant misrepresents that the Products do not contain benzene, or otherwise Defendant fails to disclose that the Products contain benzene.”
Plaintiffs further alleged, “Valisure is a company with a core mission ‘to help ensure the safety, quality and consistency of medications and supplements in the market. In response to rising concerns about counterfeit medications, generics, and overseas manufacturing, Valisure developed proprietary analytical technologies that it uses in addition to FDA standard methods to test medications and consumer products distributed in the United States.’”
The plaintiffs then alleged that “Valisure has tested for specific chemical qualities in numerous types of products, [...] Each time, Valisure’s detection of benzene and other carcinogens has been independently confirmed by industry and led to recalls by manufacturers over the subject products.”
The plaintiffs additionally alleged, “Defendant’s recall was inadequate for numerous reasons. Namely, Defendant discontinued the Suave line for “business reasons” in October 2021, but did not initiate the recall until March 2022, five months after Defendant ceased selling the Products. Further, Defendant has required proof of purchase for consumers to procure any payment from the recall. Thus, in order to make use of the recall, consumers would have had to retain a carcinogenic, disposable product for at least five months to make use of Unilever’s recall. And even then, Unilever often offers coupons for replacement products as opposed to full refunds for purchasers. Finally, Unilever is only offering any sort of remedy for a specific lot of the Product, not all lots. Thus, Unilever’s recall is in no way adequate.”
Plaintiffs presented four claims for relief, including violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, State Consumer Fraud Acts, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
In the prayer for relief, the plaintiffs requested declaratory and injunctive judgment along with an order of restitution and award of compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages with prejudgment interest.
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Pending - Other Pending
Contract - Insurance
Martha M. Pacold
Unilever United States Inc.
Carl V. Malmstrom
Attorney at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLC
111 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60604
Civil Cover Sheet
(#2) ATTORNEY Appearance for Plaintiffs Elizabeth Earl, Jeanette Rock by Carl V. Malmstrom (Malmstrom, Carl) (Entered: 01/20/2023)
DocketCLERK'S NOTICE: Pursuant to Local Rule 73.1(b), a United States Magistrate Judge of this court is available to conduct all proceedings in this civil action. If all parties consent to have the currently assigned United States Magistrate Judge conduct all proceedings in this case, including trial, the entry of final judgment, and all post-trial proceedings, all parties must sign their names on the attached #Consent To# form. This consent form is eligible for filing only if executed by all parties. The parties can also express their consent to jurisdiction by a magistrate judge in any joint filing, including the Joint Initial Status Report or proposed Case Management Order. (khg, ) (Entered: 01/20/2023)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCASE ASSIGNED to the Honorable Martha M. Pacold. Designated as Magistrate Judge the Honorable Jeffrey T. Gilbert. Case assignment: Random assignment. (khg, ) (Entered: 01/20/2023)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docket(#2) ATTORNEY Appearance for Plaintiffs Elizabeth Earl, Jeanette Rock by Carl V. Malmstrom (Malmstrom, Carl) (Entered: 01/20/2023)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docket(#1) COMPLAINT (Class Action) filed by Elizabeth Earl, Jeanette Rock; Jury Demand. Filing fee $ 402, receipt number AILNDC-20259884. (Attachments: #1 Civil Cover Sheet)(Malmstrom, Carl) (Entered: 01/20/2023)[+] Read More [-] Read Less