Procter & Gamble Class Action Settlement Reached Over Deodorant Benzene Contamination

While no details of the deodorant benzene contamination settlement have been released, parties expect to submit a proposal for approval to the Court next month.

Procter & Gamble has reached a tentative settlement to resolve a number of deodorant recall class action lawsuits, which were brought after it was discovered that Old Spice, Secret and other brands of body sprays were contaminated with benzene, a cancer-causing chemical.

In early November, the independent testing pharmacy Valisure released a report that found high levels of benzene in Old Spice, Secret, Suave, and Tag deodorants and body sprays, resulting in a citizen’s petition that called for the FDA to recall the affected products.

Acknowledging the problems with benzene in their deodorant, Procter & Gamble announced an Old Spice and Secret recall on November 23, pulling nearly twenty different aerosol spray products from the market.

The recall triggered a series of class action lawsuits filed by consumers, each raising similar allegations that they never would have purchased the products had they known they contained high levels of benzene and posed a potential cancer risk.

The lawsuits claim Proctor & Gamble falsely advertised and marketed the products as safe, while failing to adequately screen its aerosol deodorant spray products for harmful chemicals, exposing consumers all across the nation to cancer causing chemicals.

Procter & Gamble Deodorant Recall Settlement

Given common questions of fact and law raised in claims brought throughout the federal court system, last month the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated the Procter & Gamble benzene lawsuits before Judge Michael H. Watson in Southern District of Ohio for pretrial proceedings.

On May 3, parties representing the manufacturer and plaintiffs filed a Notice of Settlement (PDF), announcing that an agreement has been reached in principle to settle all of the complaints included in the MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

The notice does not include any details about the settlement agreement except to say it would resolve all outstanding cases.

“Counsel for the parties are working on executing a comprehensive settlement agreement,” the Notice states. “They anticipate that the settlement and a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement will be filed on or before June 2, 2022.”

Benzene Cancer Risks

The litigation was the latest in a string of problems involving aerosol spray products found to be contaminated with benzene in recent years, which first emerged in early 2021, with the discovery that several popular brands of sunscreen spray contained dangerous levels of the chemical.

Benzene is an industrial chemical associated with the development of several fatal forms of cancer, leukemia and other conditions, such as AML, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDL), Myelofibrosis and Myeloid Metaplasia, Aplastic Anemia and Thrombocytopenic Purpura.

Long-term side effects of benzene exposure have been proven to cause anemia, which is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Essentially, the chemical causes bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can damage an individual’s immune system. Federal regulators have determined long-term exposure to benzene can significantly impact blood cells, to the extent it causes cancer such as leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming organs.

The same pharmacy the identified the deodorant benzene problems had previously discovered the presence of the cancer-causing chemicals in many sunscreen spray products in May 2021. This lead to a number of sunscreen recalls and consumers filing similar sunscreen cancer lawsuits and class action claims against Johnson & Johnson, Coppertone and other manufacturers.

In November 2021, Johnson & Johnson and Costco agreed to settle Aveeno and Neutrogena sunscreen class action lawsuits which raised allegations that the manufacturer endangered consumers’ health by not warning them of the presence of benzene in brands of Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreen, which could increase their risk of cancer.

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