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Hope in a Jar?

September 4, 2013

Consumer sues Estée Lauder over product claims.

Decades ago, industry pioneer Estée Lauder proclaimed that women bought skin care products based on "hope in a jar." Today, however, there better be something more in the bottle.

In a suit filed late last month,
Donna Tomasino v. The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., et al., Case No. 1:13-cv-04692, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the plaintiff said she purchased Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex and Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex based on the company’s advertisements. However, she says in her class action lawsuit that the anti-aging claims are not supported by any actual product testing.

“The clinical studies and other data that Estée Lauder represents as supportive of the claimed efficacy results are nothing more than a continuation of defendants’ misleading practices—each of the studies is designed to be used in the marketing materials to support the claimed efficacy and defendants know that consumers will not see the results these studies purportedly represent,” the Estée Lauder class action lawsuit says.

In her class action lawsuit, Tomasino alleges that Estée Lauder created its advertising campaign for the Advanced Night Repair products to mention scientific research and promise anti-aging results, even though the company knows that these advertisements are false. She claims that the company is motivated by profit and intends to deceive consumers into believing that the products have anti-aging effects so that they will spend a higher price for the Advanced Night Repair line of products.

According to Estée Lauder’s marketing materials, the Advanced Night Repair line was “(i)nspired by 30 years of groundbreaking DNA research, Estée Lauder brings you the most comprehensive, high-performance anti-aging formulas we have ever created. Think of them as ‘insurance’ for younger, healthier-looking skin. Today and tomorrow.” 

According to the class action lawsuit, the company backs up this claim by referencing in-vitro testing, clinical tests, patents and genetic research. Tomasino claims, however, that none of the products’ ingredients can deliver the results touted by the marketing materials.

“In sum, Estée Lauder dupes consumers with false and misleading promises of product results based on purported scientific discoveries that it knows it cannot deliver. Estee Lauder does so with one goal in mind – reaping enormous profits at the expense of consumers,” the Estee Lauder skin cream class action lawsuit says.

Tomasino charges that Estée Lauder spent more than $2.65 billion on marketing but spent only $96.5 million on research and development in 2012. Due to the company’s aggressive and persuasive marketing tactics, American consumers are spending significant money on products that cannot deliver the results promised by Estee Lauder, according to the suit. As a result, Estee Lauder has been unjustly enriched due to its deceptive and misleading advertising.

Tomasino is represented by Caroline F. Bartlett, James E. Cecchi and Zachary S. Bower of Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello PC and Jay W. Eisenhofer, Robert G. Eisler and Adam J. Levitt of Grant & Eisenhofer PA.


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