A proposed class of buyers is suing Procter & Gamble Co. in Ohio federal court, saying the company misled them about the safety of aerosol sprays such as Old Spice and Secret deodorants after a report showed that they contain a known carcinogen.
The class — led by named plaintiffs Cheri Casolari, Dan Lewis, Berenice Bernier, Chaka Theus and Sondra Trent — aims to represent a nationwide class as well as subclasses for Illinois, Arizona, California and Florida residents who bought the products.
Independent laboratory Valisure LLC tested a variety of antiperspirants and deodorant sprays in 2021 and found that a number of Procter & Gamble’s products contained benzene, which is recognized as a human carcinogen that is found in crude oil and cigarette smoke.
Benzene is also linked to leukemia and other blood disorders. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, no amount of benzene is acceptable in the kinds of aerosol spray products that Procter & Gamble sells.
After Valisure’s report came out, Procter & Gamble in November 2021 announced the voluntary recall of certain sprays under its Old Spice and Secret brands, and in December 2021 issued an additional recall for products under the Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences and Waterless brands, all because of the detection of benzene.
The products do not list benzene as an ingredient, and that Procter & Gamble has indicated that it does not use benzene in any of its products. Therefore, the presence of benzene as detected by Valisure indicates that the products were contaminated, and that those representations were false.
While Procter & Gamble’s recall notices instructed buyers to go to the various brands’ websites to learn how to receive reimbursement, the class called these offers “nonexistent or illusory,” as the information is either buried deep within the sites or missing altogether, or requires that customers further contact the company via chat, email or phone, making the process needlessly cumbersome.
The complaint includes claims for breach of express and implied warranty, violation of the four states’ consumer protection, warranty and false advertising laws, and unjust enrichment.
The classes are seeking an order blocking Procter & Gamble from continuing to falsely advertise its products as being free from benzene, as well as restitution and disgorgement of profits and compensatory and punitive damages.