A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a potential class action against Gillette in a suit that accused the razor manufacturer of making false claims about its Fusion Power razor system. Plaintiff Ryan Edmunson alleged that Gillette deceptively advertised its Fusion Power system as superior to its Fusion manual system, and that as a result he paid 20 percent more for the Power product.
According to the plaintiff, Gillette advertised the Power cartridges as materially different from – and superior to – the Fusion manual razors, and claimed that the Power handle requires use of the Power cartridge, but in fact the cartridges are interchangeable and have no material differences.
The plaintiff also maintains that the Power cartridge labels say the blades have “a patented blade coating for incredible comfort,” while the Fusion manual blades fail to disclose that they are also made with the same coating. Gillette also charged 20 percent more for the Power cartridges, “which itself suggests a meaningful difference between the two” types of cartridges, according to the complaint.
The judge dismissed the suit, ruling that the plaintiff’s first claim was no more than puffery.
The alleged misrepresentation that Fusion Power razors are different and superior to Fusion manual razors “is not actionable,” U.S. District Court Judge Irma E. Gonzalez wrote. “An alleged misrepresentation must relate to an objectively verifiable fact; subjective representations related to product superiority are mere puffery and are not actionable.” She noted that the plaintiff pointed “to no authority supporting his contention that, for a manufacturer to advertise that two of its products differ, the products must differ by some specified degree. Whether the difference in the quality and comfort of the shave provided by the Fusion Power versus the Fusion manual razors is ‘material’ depends on individual consumers’ subjective preferences.”
With respect to the plaintiff’s second alleged misrepresentation – the compatibility of the Fusion Power and manual cartridges with the Fusion Power and manual handles – the court said the claim was potentially actionable, but that the plaintiff failed to state any specific factual allegations about his purchases or his use of the products.
To read the court’s order dismissing the suit, click here.
Why it matters: Although the court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims against Gillette, they were dismissed with leave to amend. Judge Gonzalez wrote that the plaintiff failed to allege when, where, or how many times he purchased Fusion Power cartridges, nor did he specify how often he was exposed to the alleged misrepresentations, or whether he purchased any Fusion handles at all. The opinion therefore provides a blueprint to providing sufficient allegations should the plaintiff decide to refile a complaint.