A federal class action lawsuit challenging “natural” claims for Church & Dwight’s (C&D) Arm & Hammer deodorant will cost the company almost $2 million if the settlement is granted final approval.
In 2012, a pair of plaintiffs filed suit against C&D alleging violations of Missouri and New Jersey consumer protection laws. According to the complaint, the company employed a marketing, advertising, and labeling campaign centered on false representations that Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant is a “natural” product featuring “natural” ingredients and providing “natural” protection. However, plaintiffs alleged that the deodorant actually contained artificial and synthetic ingredients, the plaintiffs said, including triclosan.
After initial motions, the parties began negotiations to settle the suit and reached a deal. The terms of the settlement agreement provide for class members to receive $4 for each purchase of the product, up to five units, without proof of purchase. Payment of more than $4 is possible with documentary evidence in the form of a receipt. Similarly, class members seeking reimbursement for more than five units will need to show proof of purchase.
C&D will provide $1.9 million for a settlement fund. Defendants also agreed not to oppose plaintiff counsel’s request for $420,000 in class counsel fees, $2,500 for each of the named plaintiffs, and administrative costs. Any residual funds will be donated on a cy pres basis to the National Environmental Education Foundation.
The settlement also provides for injunctive relief. After the lawsuit was filed, Church & Dwight changed the labeling and advertising of the deodorant line, removing the phrases “Natural Deodorant” and “Natural Protection.” The settlement acknowledged that the changes were made as a result of the action.
A hearing to determine final approval of the deal is set for June.
To read the memorandum in support of the motion for preliminary approval of the settlement in Trewin v. Church & Dwight, click here.
To read the court’s order granting preliminary approval, click here.
Why it matters: The $1.9 million settlement agreement reaffirms the dangers of labeling products “natural” or “all natural” without adequate substantiation. False or unsubstantiated “natural” claims continue to cost companies millions of dollars in class actions. Consumer class actions across the country have resulted in deals up to $9 million (Naked Juice) and $7.5 million for household brands (Ben & Jerry’s).