Thinx has agreed to pay up to $5 million to settle a proposed class action that alleged the company’s menstrual underwear contains harmful “forever chemicals” and silver nanoparticles.
The deal, which received preliminary approval from the court on November 28, covers all consumers who, between November 12, 2016 and November 28, 2022, bought Thinx period underwear in the Cotton Brief, Cotton Bikini, Cotton Thong, Sport, Hiphugger, Hi-Waist, Boyshort, French Cut, Cheeky and Thong varieties.
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In preliminarily approving the deal, the court called the settlement “fair, reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interest of” the plaintiffs and other “class members.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the settlement, including how to file a claim and when you might expect some cash to come your way.
What does the settlement provide? Do I need proof of my purchases?
To end the litigation, Thinx will pay up to $5 million into a “common fund,” comprised of a minimum of $4 million in cash and a $1 million “replenishment amount” to cover any additional claims. Any settlement money that remains from the initial $4 million after all claims and expenses are paid will be given to a cy pres charity.
Consumers who are covered by the deal and submit valid claims can opt to receive cash reimbursement for past purchases of Thinx underwear. Those with proof can receive $7.00 per purchase for a maximum of three purchases, meaning they can potentially receive up to $21 in cash through the settlement. Those without proof can receive a cash refund of $3.50 per purchase for up to three purchases, for a total of $10.50 through the deal.
Settlement documents note that those whose purchases are contained in Thinx’s own records will not need to submit their own proof when filing claims for $7.00 per purchase.
In the alternative, consumers covered by the settlement can choose to receive a single-use voucher for a discount of 35 percent off the total purchase of certain products in a single transaction of up to $150 on Thinx.com. The maximum discount available through the non-transferable vouchers, which will be valid for six months, is $52.50.
Thinx products eligible for the voucher discount include the Super Hiphugger, Heavy Hiphugger, Hiphugger, Sport, Heavy Boyshort, Boyshort, Super Hi-Waist, Heavy Hi-Waist, French Cut, Cheeky, Thong, Modal Super Cotton Brief, Modal Heavy Cotton Brief, Modal Cotton Brief, Modal Cotton Boyshort, Modal Cotton Bikini, Modal Cotton Thong, Air Hiphugger and Air Bikini varieties of underwear.
As part of the settlement, Thinx will also take certain actions, including maintaining production controls and material reviews, to ensure that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are not “intentionally added” to its underwear at any stage of production. Further, the company will continue to have its raw-material suppliers review and sign a “Supplier Code of Conduct and Chemical Supplier Agreement” requiring them to attest that PFAS are not intentionally added to Thinx underwear. Lastly, Thinx will disclose the use of anti-microbial treatments, along with their purpose, and will no longer refer to the anti-microbial components of Agion, an odor protectant, as “non-migratory.”
How and where can I file a claim?
According to court documents, an official settlement website will be created within 45 days of November 28, 2022, the date the deal received preliminary approval. It’s on this official website that eligible Thinx customers will be able to fill out and file a claim form for compensation or a voucher.
ClassAction.org will update this page when the official settlement website goes live. When the site goes live, important dates, such as the deadline by which to file a claim, will be made public.
You must file a claim online or by mail to receive compensation. If you do nothing, you will receive no benefits from the settlement and be legally bound by its terms.
Will I get a notice about the settlement?
You might. The court has ordered Thinx to provide the settlement administrator with the names, email addresses and mailing addresses, if available, of consumers covered by the settlement. If you’ve purchased any eligible products directly from Thinx, the company knows who you are and how you can be reached for the purposes of the settlement.
Will I receive a unique claim number? Where can I find it?
If you receive direct notice from Thinx about the settlement, you may be assigned a unique claim number. This number can be found somewhere, usually near the top, of your emailed or mailed notice. Keep this number handy, as entering it on the official settlement website will pre-populate the claim form with the information contained in Thinx’s records, making the claims process go a little quicker.
If you do not receive a claim number, you can still file a claim for compensation through the settlement.
When will I get money from the Thinx settlement?
It’s usually after a deal receives final approval and any appeals are resolved – the last hurdles in the class action settlement process – that class members will receive compensation. For the settlement detailed on this page, a final approval hearing is scheduled for May 3, 2023.
Product vouchers will be sent via email unless the claimant opts to receive theirs by mail. Cash benefits from the settlement will be distributed via either direct deposit, PayPal or check, depending on the individual’s preference.
What was the litigation about?
Since November 2020, Thinx was hit with at least three lawsuits that alleged the company misrepresented its washable menstrual underwear as safe, sustainable, free from harmful chemicals and nanoparticles and, for some products, organic.
Third-party testing revealed, however, that Thinx period underwear contained short-chain PFAS, man-made chemicals often used to enhance the performance of textiles and apparel, including by making them waterproof and stain resistant. PFAS are dangerous in that they accumulate in the body and in nature and have been linked to an array of health effects in humans.
Further, Thinx underwear also contains Agion, an anti-microbial agent that’s made from silver and copper nanoparticles and designed to reduce odor in clothing. The plaintiffs alleged Thinx’s use of Agion “directly contradicted” its claims that its products were free from non-migratory nanoparticles and harmful chemicals.
According to court documents, the parties began discussing a settlement “in earnest” in October 2021 before finally reaching an agreement in principle in June of this year.
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