BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A recently filed class action alleging Glade's air-freshening spray will come down to if a reasonable consumer would have believed the products would "eliminate" odors, a national legal reform group says.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Ulyna Schmidt, filed a class action against S.C. Johnson in New York federal court over claims that the global household cleaning supplies manufacturer deceptively advertises the capabilities of Glade aerosol sprays.
The suit claims that glade-brand products do not live up to advertised claims that they eliminate odors and provide up to seven hours of freshness.
“It ultimately boils down to what a reasonable consumer would believe about the claims being made in the advertising,” said Darren McKinney, Director of Communications for the American Tort Reform Association.
“Only an idiot who didn’t pay very much attention in junior high school and high school science would believe that odors are eliminated without actually removing the source of the odor.”
McKinney said that its “almost inevitable” that S.C. Johnson will argue that the speech in question is puffery and falls well within First Amendment rights to commercial free speech.
“For example, up to seven hours, that doesn’t mean seven hours,” McKinney said. “The plaintiff seems to be hung up on that.”
“So this case will boil down to: Does a reasonable consumer believe that spraying a lemon mist air freshener is going to 'eliminate' the stanky fish odor in the trash can from last night’s dinner? I think that most people who buy air fresheners know what they’re getting.”
Courts across the country have heard hundreds of consumer protection lawsuits about food labeling, but the Glade case may break new ground.
“This is the first case that I’ve heard of where a seller of an air freshener's claims are being challenged,” McKinney said.
State consumer protection statutes are supposed to protect consumers from businesses that make fraudulent claims to sell products.
“These statutes all have benevolent origins,” McKinney said. “But these laws are designed to protect reasonable consumers, not willful idiots.
"And so many of the claims that are made in these lawsuits can only be made by idiots or people who are willing to lie about being an idiot because their college roommate is the lawyer who’s going to run this class action.
"And it’s the lawyer who’s going to make millions on legal fees. All the unnamed plaintiffs get virtually nothing other than the bonus of having to pay more for their future cans of Glade.”