A class action lawsuit filed over Johnson & Johnson OGX shampoos and conditioners, alleges the manufacturer falsely advertised the hair products as safe, while concealing information consumers may be exposed to formaldehyde and other ingredients which could cause hair loss and other injuries.
The complaint was filed by Larissa Whipple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on June 7, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of all consumers nationwide who purchased variations of OGX shampoos and conditioners, indicating Johnson & Johnson made misleading and false statements about the benefits purportedly offered by the products, while failing to warn consumers they may be exposed to cancer-causing ingredients.
The lawsuit involves Johnson & Johnson OGX Shampoo and/or Conditioner products, which contain DMDM hydantoin as an ingredient. DMDM hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde known to cause reactions including itchiness, red rashes on the skin brittle hair, loss of hair and even dermatitis.
Whipple claims Johnson & Johnson OGX shampoo products are marketed nationwide with false and misleading marketing and labeling claims, specifically touting on the product labeling that the OGX line of shampoos and conditioners nourish, revive, enhance and repair damaged hair, making it healthier and thicker. However, the lawsuit claims customers are being exposed to DMDM hydantoin ingredients, which may cause consumers to suffer hair loss, allergic reactions, or skin and scalp irritation.
While formaldehyde-releasers are common in shampoo and conditioner, to prevent microbes from growing in water-based products, the lawsuit claims there are safer alternatives than DMDM hydantoin.
The lawsuit specifically points out that since 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, and the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) named formaldehyde as a known and definite carcinogen to humans.
Whipple claims Johnson & Johnson was or should have been fully aware of DMDM hydantoin risks to consumers, stating the manufacturer announced plans to remove DMDM hydantoin from all products by 2015. However, when Johnson & Johnson acquired Vogue International, including their line of OGX products, Johnson & Johnson failed to change the ingredient profile and continued to sell OGX shampoos and conditioners containing DMDM hydantoin.
The Johnson & Johnson OGX shampoo lawsuit alleges the company falsely advertised benefits of using the line of products, as part of an effort to increase profits by maintaining a false superiority over alternative shampoos, while concealing DMDM hydantoin risks.
The complaint seeks to represent a nationwide class of individuals who purchased one of the OGX products and has either suffered, or will suffer economic losses in repairing and restoring damage caused by the products.
Claims of fraud and unjust enrichment are presented in the case, which also seeks punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson for its alleged malice, motive and reckless disregard for consumer safety.
The case is one of several shampoo lawsuits filed in recent years over products containing formaldehyde, with one of the most recent filed in an Illinois Court against Suave, raising similar allegations the manufacturer used false and misleading marketing and labeling claims to promote their Unilever Professional line of shampoos and conditioners that contain DMDM hydantoin.
In 2014, Unilever agreed to pay $10.2 million to settle a Suave class action lawsuit filed by consumers over hair loss from its formaldehyde-containing Suave Keratin Infusion treatments. The lawsuit claimed the manufacturer engaged in deceptive advertising by claiming Keratin Infusion hair products were formaldehyde free, even though they contained a chemical which released formaldehyde when used.