On Monday, a Kentucky federal judge denied Unilever USA Inc.’s bid to dismiss a class action lawsuit where a group of women alleged that they suffered from hair loss and damage as a result of using the company’s Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit.
The kit contains chemicals includes the same ingredient found in hair removal products.
The plaintiffs bought the Suave kit believing it was a smoothing treatment; however, the kit contains chemicals that most closely resemble those in a chemical relaxer and includes the same ingredient found in hair removal products, according to the suit. One of the plaintiffs claimed that despite carefully following the product’s instructions, she suffered from hair damage and loss. After spending hundreds of dollars in attempts to repair her hair, she was forced to cut most of it off, she said.
According to the complaint, Unilever failed to provide an adequate warning on the product’s packaging, in its marketing materials, or on the company website that serious hair loss was a potential side effect of the treatment, even when used properly. In addition, the packaging for the kit claims that it is formaldehyde-free, yet it reportedly includes an ingredient known to release the toxic chemical during use.
Unilever argued that the plaintiffs failed to properly plead their claim that the company breached an express warranty for the product, but the judge disagreed. He ruled that the plaintiffs were successful in arguing that the company’s claims that the hair treatment was a “smoothing” product – not a chemical relaxer – were an “affirmation of fact or promise.” Lawyers for the defendant continued to argue that the plaintiffs’ failed to allege that any purported warranties became a basis for the parties’ bargain, a claim which the judge also denied.
Although Unilever issued a voluntary recall in May, they failed to make any public announcement for the recall and many women claim to have used the product after it was taken off the market, according to FOX 7. Instead, the company opted to label the item as “discontinued” on its website, telling customers to e-mail or contact the company via telephone for further information.
The company has reportedly called the incidents a “misunderstanding” of the appropriate use and application of the treatment, and blames consumers for the defect in the product, according to the complaint. Although there have been numerous complaints – victims even created a Facebook page where consumers can relay their “horror” stories associated with the kit – Unilever has failed to formally acknowledge any ailments, and continues to tell customers that the product is safe to use as directed.