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Woman files pair of class actions suits over hair products; claims they didn't control frizz as advertised

By Andrew Thomason | Feb 27, 2014

A Chicago woman is seeking at least $10 million on behalf of herself and others for what essentially amounts to a bad hair day.

Erin Flaherty filed two class action suits Feb. 21 in Chicago's federal court against Procter & Gamble Co. and L'Oreal USA, claiming their products did not perform as advertised.

The suit against Procter & Gamble, an Ohio company, focuses on its "Aussie" brand of hair products, recognizable for its kangaroo-festooned purple containers. Her claim focuses specifically on Aussie's "Miraculously Smooth 12 Hour Anti-Humidity Spray."

Flaherty's suit against L'Oreal, a New York-based beauty products company, targets the company's Garnier brand, specifically the "Sleek & Shine Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk."

In both suits, Flaherty alleges the products do not live up to their anti-humidity claims in regards to hair control. Both Garnier’s and Aussie's products rely at least partially on silicone to control frizz and other undesirable hair conditions caused by humidity.

The "scientific evidence indicates that silicone, while water resistant, is permeable to water vapor. Humidity is the measure of the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity, therefore, can permeate the barriers formed on the hair by the Product, rendering it ineffective," Flaherty claims in her suits.

Both complaints cite the same four sources to back up their allegations regarding silicone's permeability to water vapor, including papers by the chemical company Dow and NuSil, a global manufacturer of silicone-based materials.

Flaherty asserts that L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble knew, but didn't disclose that the products in question didn't live up to their anti-humidity claims.

"Plaintiff and the Class would not have purchased the Product(s) had they known (the) benefit statements were false and misleading and that studies have found the ingredients to be ineffective for the represented hair benefits," the suits state.

Both complaints ask that either a multi-state class, or as an alternative, and Illinois class be certified. Flaherty asserts there are more than 100 class members and more than $5 million in potential damages in each suit.

Additionally, both complaints consist of a single count that alleges the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act in that their claims of humidity control for hair were intentionally deceptive and misrepresentations that caused Flaherty and others harm.

She is seeking compensatory and actual damages, including restitution and repayment of the defendants' profits from the named products, and statutory damages for herself and the class. She is also asking that Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal be enjoined from selling the named products as they are currently marketed.

Both of Flaherty's suits were filed by attorneys Joseph Siprut, Gregg Barbakoff and Gregory Jones of Siprut P.C. in Chicago.

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