Seeking to represent a nationwide class of product purchasers, a Florida resident has filed consumer-fraud claims against Tom’s of Maine, Inc., alleging that the company’s toothpaste is falsely marketed, advertised and labeled as “natural” because it contains “heavily chemically processed” ingredients, “including xylitol and sodium lauryl sulfate.” Gay v. Tom’s of Maine, Inc., No. 14-60604 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Fla., filed March 7, 2014).
The plaintiff claims that she relied on the product representations to her economic detriment and that reasonable consumers “do not have the special- ized knowledge necessary to identify the ingredients in the Products as being inconsistent with the Natural Claims.” She cites National Advertising Division and U.S. Department of Agriculture definitions of “natural” to support her claims; they focus on the extent of processing an ingredient undergoes as a factor in determining whether a substance is synthetic or natural. According to the complaint, the company’s Website discusses these specific ingredients and claims that they are derived from natural sources.
Alleging a single count—violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act—the plaintiff seeks restitution and disgorgement; compensatory and other damages; actual and statutory damages; injunctive relief, including corrective advertising; attorney’s fees; costs; and interest.