Claiming that she has lost one-third of her hair after using Guthy-Renker LLC WEN Cleansing Conditioner hair-care products, a Florida resident has filed a putative nationwide class action in a California federal court, alleging strict products liability, breach of warranty, failures to warn and test, as well as consumer fraud. Friedman v. Guthy-Renker LLC, No. 14-6009 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., filed July 31, 2014).
The complaint includes what are alleged to be a small sample of numerous blog and other Website statements from WEN conditioner purchasers making the same comments about hair loss that continued even after use of the product ceased. It further asserts that “YouTube features numerous videos also documenting hair loss caused by WEN Cleansing Conditioner.” The plaintiff claims that the company not only failed to warn about the product defects, but “actively concealed customers’ comments concerning hair loss, by blocking and/or erasing such comments from the WEN Facebook page.” She also alleges that the company makes false statements on which she relied about the “gentle nature of the product” including that it can be used every day.
To bolster claims that the defendant knew about the hair-loss problems, the plaintiff contends that after she complained about the product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company contacted her and posed “two dozen comprehensive questions concerning Plaintiff’s use of WEN Cleansing Conditioner. Discovery in this litigation will undoubtedly demonstrate that Defendant formulated these questions long ago and has repeatedly used them with complaining consumers.” She also alleges that she was contacted by the company’s apparent insurer and claims, “Rather than address this systemic problem, Defendant is apparently attempting to payoff consumers on the cheap, sweep this problem under the rug and continue its lucrative business selling its defective WEN Cleansing Conditioner.” The plaintiff claims that the company has not recalled the product.
In addition to a request to certify a nationwide class, the plaintiff seeks to certify a Florida subclass. She requests actual, general, special, incidental, statutory, and consequential damages, including the costs of efforts to regain hair and mask the effects of hair loss. She also seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendant to replace the conditioner with non-defective products or provide an “appropriate curative notice regarding the existence and cause of the defect.”