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July 2, 2014 / Alexis Domb

Consumers File Class Action After Getting Burned by Merck’s Coppertone SPF 55+ Products

On June 4, 2014, San Diego woman Danika Gisvold filed a class action accusing Merck & Co. Inc. of consumer fraud (Danika Gisvold v. Merck & Co. Inc., et al., Case No. 14-cv-01371, S. D. CA.). The class action lawsuit asserts that Merck is tricking consumers into paying higher prices for its Coppertone sunscreen products with Sun Protection Factors (SPF) of 55 to 100+, even though they allegedly contain “virtually identical active ingredients as the Coppertone SPF 50 Products,” which cost less.

The class action alleges that Merck is conducting a “false, misleading, and deceptive” advertising campaign. The lawsuit also claims that “Merck has consistently conveyed the message to consumers…that the Coppertone SPF 55-100+ collection provides superior UVB protection compared to the comparable lower SPF valued products…” The class action claims that the Coppertone’s 55-100+ SPF sunscreens in fact do not offer greater sun protection.

According to the complaint, “[c]onsumers have become familiar with SPF values because they have appeared on sunscreen product labels for decades,” and “[c]onsumers have learned to associate higher SPF values with greater sun protection.” The class action stresses that consumers reasonably assume that a product with SPF 100+ provides double the sun protection as a product with 50 SPF.

The complaint alleges that the US Food and Drug Administration and other scientific studies have revealed that products with SPF values over 50 do not provide greater sun protection than SPF 50 products. Plaintiff Gisvold asserts that “none of the sunscreen products in the Coppertone SPF 55-100+ collection provide any additional clinical benefit over the Coppertone SPF 50 products.”

The class action complaint states, “As a result of Merck’s superior UVB protection claims, consumers…have purchased products that do not perform as advertised.” According to Topclassactions.com, Merck allegedly continues to claim that the Coppertone SPF 55-100+ sunscreens offer “superior UVB protection and sells the products for a premium price.”

Plaintiff Gisvold asserts that Merck has violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, as well as breach of express warranty.

If you or someone you know has purchased a product in reliance on misleading labeling or advertising, you may be entitled to relief. Please contact Khorrami Boucher, LLP for a confidential consultation.

 

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