Attorneys in Vogue class action seek $1.6M

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 13, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - Vogue International has agreed to pay $6.5 million in a settlement over claims that it falsely labeled its Organix skin and hair care products as organic.

The lawsuit was first filed in California Superior Court in Alameda County and removed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Nov. 26, 2012.

Andrea Golloher, Marisa Freeman, Roberta Chase, Michael Shapiro and Brenda Brown, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, claimed the defendant's products were advertised, marketed, labeled, sold and represented as organic, but are composed almost entirely from ingredients that were not organic.

The plaintiffs claim the name of the products was misleading and that the products contained only 10 percent organic ingredients.

They claim they would not have paid the higher price for the products had they known that they were not truly organic.

When making the decision to buy the hair and skin care products, they relied on the front and back labels, which stated that the products contained organic ingredients, according to the suit.

In the settlement document filed on Aug. 22, Vogue has agreed not to manufacture or cause to be manufactured any hair care and skin care product under the Organix brand name unless such products contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients, excluding water or salt.

Vogue has also agreed not to use the word "organic" to promote the sale of any hair care and skin care products unless such products contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt, according to the settlement document.

Under the terms of the Organix settlement, Vogue will pay $6.5 million into a fund set aside to compensate consumers who purchased Organix products.

Attorneys are asking for $1.625 million, or no more than 25 percent of the claim fund, in attorneys fees.

The class members' counsel say they have expended significant professional time and out-of-pocket expenses litigating the case and securing the settlement for the benefit of the class, according to the proposed order granting the plaintiffs' motion for award of attorneys' fees and costs, which was filed on Jan. 6.

"To date, class counsel has spent over 2,000 hours litigating this case...this results in a lodestar in excess of $1.16 million. Class counsel anticipates spending an additional 200 hours up through final distribution of the settlement fund resulting in an additional lodestar of approximately $100,000," the order states.

The class counsel's reasonable expenses incurred are $35,751 .

"The entire $6.5 million claim fund will directly benefit the class," the order states. "First, the settlement creates a $6.5 million cash claim fund to pay class members' claims, attorneys' fees and costs, the costs of proving notice to the class and administering the claims process and service awards for the class representatives...second, the settlement provides for significant injunctive relief."

Up to $650,000 of the class fund will pay for notice and administration of the settlement, which is necessary for the class to obtain the cash benefits from the settlement, according to the order.

Up to $1.625 million of the claim fund will be used to compensate class counsel, up to $9,000 will be used to pay the plaintiffs' incentive awards, ranging from $250 to $1,500.

The remaining $4.216 million will be used to pay for class members' claims.

A hearing on the order is set for April 3.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mark N. Todzo, Howard Hirsch and Lisa Burger of Lexington Law Group.

The defendant was represented by Kieran G. Doyle and Eric J. Shimanoff of Cowan Liebowitz & Latman and Simon J. Frankel of Covington & Burling.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Richard Seeborg.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number: 3:12-cv-06002

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