Tom’s of Maine, Inc. is on the receiving end of a proposed class action in which a consumer claims the company has falsely labeled its toothpaste as “all natural” when the product contains chemically processed ingredients.
Citing the company’s mission to “help people live a more natural life,” the 24-page complaint out of California states that Tom’s makes itself out to be a “good corporate citizen” and a company that “sells a lifestyle as much as anything else.” The case emphasizes that consumers have relied on Tom’s of Maine’s representations, in particular its “liberal use of the word ‘natural,’” in deciding to buy the company’s purportedly natural personal care products.
According to the suit, however, Tom’s toothpaste products, despite prominently displaying the word “natural” on the front label, contain ingredients such as xylitol and sodium lauryl sulfate—chemically processed ingredients.
The case alleges the “natural” representations on Tom’s of Maine’s labels were “clearly intended” to induce customers into purchasing the toothpaste over competitors’ products based on the impression that it was made with natural ingredients.
“Plaintiff relied upon this representation,” the complaint alleges. “She would not have bought this product nor would she have paid the supra-competative [sic] price if she had known that Defendant's ‘natural’ representation was false and misleading.”
The complaint notes that separate class actions were filed in 2014 against the defendant challenging its use of the word “natural” as it pertains to toothpaste products. According to the case, Tom’s paid up to $4.5 million to settle the suits but was not required to change its labels.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who purchased Tom’s of Maine toothpaste in the U.S. for personal use, with a subclass of those who did so in California within the past four years.
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