According to the order, the settlement covers all persons who, from May 1, 2016 through October 12, 2021, bought a Molekule Air, Molekule Air Pro, Molekule Air Mini, Molekule Air Mini+ or Molekule Air Pro Rx air purifier in the United States from a third-party seller, including but not limited to Amazon, b8ta, Best Buy, MoMa Design Store NYC and Sprout, and as of October 12 have not agreed to the arbitration provision in Molekule’s terms and conditions.
Pursuant to the settlement, a $1.3 million cash fund will be created and no money will revert back to the defendant. Molekule has also agreed to provide a “coupon fund” of up to $1.4 million in fully transferrable coupons that can be used toward the purchase of a Molekule air purifier or filter subscription. Molekule buyers who submit claims for cash must include either a valid receipt or similar proof of purchase or a photograph of a valid serial number for their air purifier.
Consumers can submit a claim for either cash or a coupon, not both.
Notices will begin to go out to those covered by the settlement within 30 days of October 12 with instructions on how to submit a claim. Some notices will be delivered to Molekule buyers from the third-party retailers from whom they bought their air purifier. A settlement website is also expected to be established, but is not yet live.
Court documents state approximately 18,150 Molekule air purifiers covered by the settlement were sold.
A hearing to decide final approval of the settlement is slated for January 7, 2022. Molekule denies all allegations of wrongdoing or liability.
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The 87-page lawsuit alleges Molekule’s Air, Air Mini and Air Mini+ air purification devices are defective in that the proprietary Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) filter used by the products, touted by the defendant as “the world’s first molecular air purifier,” not only perform worse than traditional HEPA air filters but also do not remove any pollutants from the air.
Filed November 17 by four plaintiffs in Delaware federal court, the complaint alleges Molekule, in marketing the products, has issued a number of misrepresentations concerning the air purifiers’ performance, abilities and benefits. The suit claims Molekule has misrepresented that the air purifiers:
Use PECO filter technology that “outperforms HEPA filters in every category of pollutant”;
Are able to “eradicate the full spectrum of indoor air pollutants”;
Are capable of achieving quantified pollution-removal benchmarks, i.e. “destroy[ing] 1 million allergens in 4 minutes”;
Were subject to “independent testing” that served as the basis for Molekule’s marketing claims;
Are rated to function in rooms of certain sizes;
Provide allergy and asthma symptom relief; and
Fight “unhealthy levels” of wildfire smoke considering the products are marketed as able to not only filter out ash and debris but destroy airborne pollutants.
Moreover, Molekule has “tailored its advertising to capitalize on current events” by claiming its Air Purifiers “destroy” coronavirus, the lawsuit says.
“Defendant engaged in a deceptive and misleading marketing campaign to sell Air Purifiers based on misrepresentations and omissions that it spread through its own website, social media, interviews with third-party publications, YouTube, and other fora,” the complaint alleges. “Defendant’s green-driven scheme is at the expense of consumers across the country and in violation of applicable law.”
According to the suit, Molekule’s representations do not hold up under scrutiny. Consumer Reports, for instance, stated the Molekule Air “almost flunked” the standard battery of tests through which the publication puts air purifiers, the case says. Per the suit, the products fared no better in a review conducted by New York Times tech review affiliate site Wirecutter, who described the air purifiers in October 2019 as “[t]he worst air purifier we’ve ever tested.”
Wirecutter focused in particular on Molekule’s claim that its PECO filters outperformed HEPA filters, the case says. The lawsuit states that Wirecutter’s tests, in which the Molekule Air went head to head against HEPA filter devices, revealed that “on every single setting the Molekule Air produced results that were substantially worse than its competition.”
“Indeed, on the lowest setting, the Molekule Air ‘results look worse than what you see with no purifier running at all,’” the complaint reads, claiming the defendant scrubbed the contested claim from its website following the publication of this review.
Consumers such as the plaintiffs bought Molekule’s air purifiers based on the company’s false and misleading representations, the lawsuit says. The case scathes that the defendant’s ads are “replete with misrepresentations” that motivate consumers to buy products, which are reportedly “among the most expensive available” yet fail on every advertised metric and “offer no therapeutic benefit whatsoever.”
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