An Illinois man has filed a putative class action against the maker of an antibacterial hand soap contending that the product is no better than regular soap at killing germs but is deceptively advertised as superior to other soap products and sold at a premium price. Walls v. The Dial Corp., No. 10-00734 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Ill., filed September 23, 2010). According to the complaint, the antibacterial ingredient in Dial Complete Foaming Antibacterial Hand Wash® is triclosan, which “was developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals” but has been added to many consumer products.  

Citing Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and congressional concerns about the increasing use of triclosan, the plaintiff notes that it is registered as a pesticide and purportedly poses human health and environmental risks. Seeking to certify a statewide class, the plaintiff cites extensive advertising for the product, reliance on that advertising and independent scientific research indicating that “soaps containing added ingredients such as tricolsan in liquid soap and triclocarbon in bar soap do not show a benefit above and beyond plain soap in the consumer environment.”  

The complaint alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment. The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to stop the defendant from marketing the product “as having benefits that is does not have,” and to require a public information campaign and corrective advertising; disgorgement and restitution; cy pres recovery “where necessary and as applicable”; compensatory and other damages; attorney’s fees; and costs.