Cook County Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Judge gives final OK to $10.25M settlement in Suave Keratin Smoothing Kit class action; attorney's fees yet to be awarded

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 29, 2014

A $10.25 million settlement has been approved in a class action lawsuit over Suave's Professionals Keratin Infusion 30-Day Smoothing Kit.

Class members claimed they were mislead into buying and using the kit, which was recalled in May 2012, and that the product caused hair loss and/or scalp injuries.

“After more than a year and a half of arm’s length and hard fought negotiations and two separate mediation sessions conducted with the assistance of Hon. Wayne R. Andersen (Ret.), the parties entered into a settlement agreement on February 7, 2014,” the plaintiffs' June 11 motion seeking final approval of the settlement states.

In exchange for dismissal of the three pending putative class actions, the defendants – Unilever United States Inc., LEK Inc., and Conopco Inc. – agreed to provide $10.25 million to Dahl Administration LLC for the establishment of a $10 million injury fund and a $250,000 reimbursement fund.

The reimbursement fund will be available to any member of the settlement class who is seeking compensation, in the form of a one-time payment of $10 per person, for the purchase of the smoothing kit.

The injury fund will seek to compensate any member of the defined settlement class who suffered bodily injury to his or her scalp as a result of using the smoothing kit, and did not timely request exclusion from the class, the settlement states.

Class members who suffered smoothing kit injuries may submit a claim for reimbursement ranging from $40 to $25,000, depending on the extent of their injuries and proof of their treatment expenses.

Named plaintiff, Sidney Reid, will receive a $10,000 incentive award and named plaintiffs Alisha Barnett, Dawn Damrow and Fran Pennel will each receive a $7,500 award.

Class counsel requested attorneys’ fees in the amount of one-third of the total common fund made available to the class. According to a document on the settlement website, U.S. Chief Judge Ruben Castillo deferred consideration of attorney's fees and expenses until after the final fairness hearing.

That document, dated June 27, states the defendants have until Aug. 8 to respond to the class counsel's request for attorney's fees.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2012 in Chicago's federal court. Related class action suits, according to court records, were also filed in the Western District of Kentucky and the Northern District of California.

Records show Castillo preliminarily approved the settlement on Feb. 12, held a final fairness hearing July 9 and gave the settlement his final stamp of approval on July 11.

The plaintiffs were represented by Chicago attorneys Lori A. Fanning and Andrew Szot of Miller Law LLC; Florida attorney Christopher S. Polaszek of Morgan & Morgan PA; and New York attorneys Peter Safirstein and Elizabeth S. Metcalf of Morgan & Morgan PC and Jana Eisinger of the Law Office of Jana Eisinger PLLC.

Records show LEK was represented by Chicago attorneys Tatum Hall Lytle, Paul Gamboa, James H. Ryan and Stephanie Frances Jones of Gordon & Ress LLP while the other defendants, Unilever and Conopco, were represented by Sondra A. Hemeryck and Paul J. Morency of Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago.

Bethany Krajelis contributed to this article.

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