A federal court in California has denied a motion for class certification in a suit alleging that Neutrogena Corp. misled consumers by advertising its beauty products as “clinically proven” to prevent and repair facial wrinkles, fine lines and other indicia of aging, thus making users appear younger. Chow v. Neutrogena Corp., No. 12-4624 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., W. Div., decided January 22, 2013). Among other matters, the named plaintiff alleged breach of express warranty and violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

In the court’s view, “[t]here are significant doubts as to Plaintiff’s ability to meet the threshold requirements of commonality, typicality and adequacy” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), and “individual issues predominate over common questions of law and fact” under Rule 23(b)(3), thus making “the class action device… not appropriate.” According to the court, because “money damages are the true purpose of this action,” the plaintiff’s request for certification under Rule 23(b)(2) was also inappropriate.

The court found “significant individualized questions as to whether the product worked as advertised for each individual class member,” questions that “would necessitate consulting each class member individually to determine if they experienced the advertised result.” The court also determined that the alleged misrepresentations were not subject to an inference of class-wide reliance “because, among other reasons, a significant portion of consumers who purchased the product were repeat purchasers. Plaintiff has not provided significant proof to distinguish between mere favorability toward products bearing the Neutrogena brand name, for example, and reliance upon specific advertised benefits of the products in this case.”