A New York resident has filed a putative class action against The Estee Lauder Cos., alleging that its line of Advanced Night Repair (ANR) cosmetic products cannot produce the age-defying results the company promises on the basis of “purported scientific studies.” Tomasino v. The Estee Lauder Cos., Inc., No. 13-4692 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D.N.Y., filed August 20, 2013). Claiming that she relied on the product representations to make her purchases, the plaintiff alleges that she sustained economic losses by buying expensive products that cannot, as claimed, repair DNA damage or reduce lines and wrinkles by 68 percent.
Among the named plaintiff’s claims are that the company (i) refers in its marketing materials to worldwide patents, but has not marked any of its products with information about such patents; (ii) airbrushes or alters images of its models, who, like Gwyneth Paltrow, have not actually achieved younger-looking skin by using the products; (iii) spends more money annually on marketing ($2.65 billion) than on research and development ($96.5 million)—a ratio of 27 to one; and (iv) engages in a continual series of new product cycles in which old products are discontinued and new products are introduced “based upon some new ‘research’ or purported new formulation, technology, discovery or ingredient . . . to keep driving sales and profits that would otherwise stagnate once consumers used the products and realized that they do not perform as promised.”
Seeking to certify a nationwide class and New York subclass of product purchasers, the plaintiff alleges violations of the New York General Business Law—unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false promise, misrepresentation and/or the knowing concealment, suppression, or omissions in connection with the sale or advertisement of merchandise, and false advertising; breach of express warranty and the implied warranty of merchantability; and unjust enrichment. She requests declaratory and injunctive relief; compensatory, treble and punitive damages; interest; restitution; attorney’s fees; and costs.