LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - Last week, a California woman filed a class action lawsuit against the popular, celebrity-endorsed EOS brand lip balm, claiming the company’s product causes severe rashes, dryness, bleeding, blistering, cracking and pigmentation loss, and is a “massive national health problem.”
Plaintiff Rachael Cronin filed her lawsuit against EOS Products LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Jan. 12 on behalf of herself and a putative class of “potentially hundreds of thousands” of similarly situated consumers.
EOS -- an acronym for “evolution of smooth” -- develops, markets, advertises, brands, promotes, distributes and sells one of the highest-grossing lip balm products currently on the market, EOS Visibly Soft Lip Balm. The balms come in a variety of colors and flavors, with what Cronin describes in her complaint as “over-the-top and misleading” names like Barbados Heat-Wildberry, Medicated Tangerine and Honeysuckle Honeydew.
Cronin states in her 36-page complaint that the lip balms come in “attractive bright circular pods that stand out from the other oblique-shaped lip balms in the marketplace.”
When she purchased EOS’ Summer Fruit lip balm at a Los Angeles-area Target retail store in December, Cronin admits she was drawn to the product as she was shopping because of the “bright red pod container.”
She claims she also had seen EOS advertisements via social media and in print magazines prior to her purchase. The company uses and pays celebrity “brand ambassadors,” such as Kim Kardashian West, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff and others, to post photos on Instagram and other social media websites.
In fact -- and as Cronin points out in her complaint -- the EOS website has an entire page devoted to its “celebrity fans.”
“The message EOS is trying to mislead consumers about is clear: EOS lip balm is a daily necessity requiring constant use regardless of the actual condition of your lips to improve your health, diet and appearance,” the lawsuit states.
In reality, Cronin claims the company’s lip balms cause “devastating adverse reactions,” lasting from a few days to a few months, with some consumers experiencing long-lasting or permanent symptoms.
In her case, Cronin alleges she began applying the lip balm the same day she purchased the product. Within hours, her lips became “substantially dry and coarse,” similar to sandpaper, she contends.
In turn, she applied more of the balm, in hopes of achieving “sensationally smooth” lips, as advertised.
“Ms. Cronin’s lips did not become smooth, and began severely cracking on the edges causing flaking and bleeding from the cracks,” the lawsuit states. “By the next day, Ms. Cronin’s lips and surrounding skin area had severe blistering and rashes causing her to seek medical care.
“Ms. Cronin was in severe shock and panic.”
According to the lawsuit, EOS is, and has been, “on notice” of the serious adverse side effects caused by its product -- consumer complaints have “flooded” its Facebook page and email, Cronin claims.
“Consumers, including the Plaintiff in this action have written to EOS to share their complaints and adverse health problems arising from the use of the production,” the lawsuit states.
Despite this, the company, according to Cronin’s complaint, has failed to: provide any warning on the product; provide any warning on its website or advertising material; recall the product; and commission a study regarding the adverse effects of its proprietary formula.
Cronin seeks an order certifying the action; an order requiring “complete and immediate” disclosure of all studies, reports and information within EOS’ possession concerning the health and safety of its lip balm products; an order barring EOS from destroying any computer records relating to the health and safety of its products; an order barring the company from attempting to induce any class members to sign documents releasing any claims; an award of compensatory damages; punitive damages; declaratory and injunctive relief; an order directing EOS to engage in a corrective advertising campaign; and attorneys’ fees and costs.
In a statement to Legal Newsline, EOS says it firmly believes the lawsuit is without merit.
“Our products are made with the highest quality ingredients and meet or exceed all safety and quality standards set out by our industry and validated by rigorous testing conducted by an independent lab,” a company spokesperson said. “The health and well-being of our customers is our top priority and millions of satisfied customers use our products every day, many of whom take the time to share their experiences with us.”
The company says the ingredients used in its products are safe and approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board, and it is in “full compliance” with all standards and guidelines regarding ingredient use and labeling.
“We sold several million lip balms last month in the U.S. and received 40 consumer complaints, or a complaint rate of 0.001 percent,” the spokesperson said. “Of those consumers, 35 agreed to receive coupons for replacement products and we didn’t hear from the other five yet.”
Mark J. Geragos of Los Angeles law firm Geragos & Geragos is representing Cronin in the lawsuit. Mostly known as a celebrity lawyer, he has famously represented Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Chris Brown, Gary Condit, Susan McDougal and Scott Peterson.
According to the docket, Judge John A. Kronstadt has been assigned the case.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.