“Leaf” facemasks marketed and sold by Redcliffe Medical Devices amid the coronavirus pandemic are nothing like what the company has claimed—that is, if customers have received the product at all, a proposed class action alleges.
The 45-page lawsuit alleges Redcliffe has, through the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform and its own website, “sought to capitalize on the human suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” by fraudulently advertising its facemasks as N95-, N99-, N100-rated transparent, self-cleaning, air-quality sensing, reusable products that are FDA approved and made in the United States.
“None of these things are true,” the complaint, filed in Michigan federal court, claims.
In addition to alleging Redcliffe’s Leaf facemasks outright fail to stop the spread of COVID-19, the lawsuit says many who paid money for the products simply have not received them, and those that have received the masks got a product crippled by “material defects” that eliminate any protection from the virus.
Had the plaintiffs and proposed class members known the truth, they would not have bought the defendant’s facemasks, the lawsuit asserts.
In reality, unsuspecting consumers have received nothing like what’s been advertised by the defendant, the case claims. For its part, Redcliffe has used its apparently fraudulent product claims to “obtain free money from thousands of customers,” many of whom, the plaintiffs say, have not received any of the facemasks they paid for.
According to the lawsuit, Redcliffe began marketing and selling Leaf facemasks and other products through Indiegogo.com, a crowdfunding platform, and its own website as the COVID-19 crisis spread across the United States in early 2020. The plaintiffs and proposed class members bought Redcliffe’s Leaf facemasks in reliance on the company’s misrepresentations of the “quality and characteristics” of the products, the suit alleges.
From the complaint:
“For example, Redcliffe advertised the Leaf products as N95, N99, N100 rated transparent, self-cleaning, air-quality sensing reusable masks. Additionally, Redcliffe states on its website that ‘The Leaf Pro deploys cutting-edge aerospace-grade N100, MERV20+ HEPA Filters. With filtration material rated at N100 standard, the filters can sieve 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles making it N100 standard. The cutting-edge material is pleated into 25 pleats to dramatically enhance the surface area of the filter to up-to 5X the effective surface area of a conventional mask while dramatically reducing the space required for the filter itself. All in all, it allows you to breathe effortlessly. The HEPA-Carbon filter also adds a layer of Activated Carbon filter to absorb volatile organic compounds and odors.’”
All of these statements are false, the lawsuit says, claiming Redcliffe’s representations of its Leaf facemasks were “specifically meant to induce consumers” to buy the product even though it cannot, in reality, stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to the case, the Leaf facemasks are simply “registered” with the FDA, meaning the agency has not approved the masks as N95, N99 or N100 or determined that the products have disinfecting capabilities.
As of February 16, 2021, Redcliffe’s Indiegogo page for the Leaf facemasks states the company has secured more than $4.2 million in crowd funding from more than 25,000 buyers nationwide. Redcliffe’s apparent sales numbers, the suit says, do not include direct sales from the company’s website and other sources.
Despite the amount of money it’s pulled in for its Leaf facemasks, Redcliffe has failed to deliver the products to customers, or has alternatively delivered them with “significant delays,” the lawsuit says, noting many consumers have waited months to receive their facemasks.
Of the small number of masks the defendant has delivered, the products have come plagued with “material defects which eliminate any protection the mask is meant to offer from COVID-19,” including holes in the mask’s filter, filters with no NIOSH ratings, a lack of any antimicrobial coating and generally none of the qualities Redcliffe represented, the lawsuit says:
“Instead of delivering the Leaf masks to Plaintiffs and Class Members who provided payment to Redcliffe, Redcliffe improperly retained these payments while failing to timely deliver the Leaf masks to Plaintiffs and Class Members. Plaintiffs and Class Members relied on Redcliffe’s misrepresentations when purchasing the Leaf masks. Plaintiffs and Class Members believed that upon payment for the Leaf masks, Redcliffe would timely deliver the Leaf masks, but that has not happened.”
Still further, although Redcliffe represented to proposed class members that all Indiegogo supporters would receive additional Leaf products once the company reached its stretch crowdfunding goals, the company has not come through on that promise, according to the case.
The lawsuit relays that Indiegogo issued on August 26, 2020 a message to the plaintiffs and proposed class members, stating it was “holding” $3.3 million of the sales revenue until Redcliffe could deliver what customers ordered. As a result of the defendant’s delays, Indiegogo removed the campaign from its InDemand program, the suit says. Though the campaign has been gone for more than five months, consumers still have not received their Leaf facemasks, the lawsuit says.
The case looks to cover all persons who bought any Leaf product directly or indirectly from Redcliffe at any time from January 1, 2020 to the present in the United States. Additionally, the suit seeks coverage for subclasses consisting of Leaf buyers in California, Michigan and Montana.
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