Morphe faces lawsuit over ‘inherently dangerous’ eye makeup products

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Morphe Cosmetics is the recipient of a proposed class action lawsuit, accusing it of knowingly engaging in false advertising, unfair competition, negligence and product liability in connection with its manufacture and sale of makeup which is “intrinsically dangerous”. According to the lawsuit they filed in federal court in California last month, Crystal Damato, Amanda Montgomery and Taylor Maxwell (the “plaintiffs”) allege that Morphe offers eye makeup products that “contain color and ingredients that are hazardous when used in the immediate eye area,” and at the same time failing to alert consumers – including children – to the risks of these known hazards.

In their 52-page complaint, Damato, Montgomery and Maxwell allege that they used Morphe eye makeup – including its eyeshadow palettes, eyeliners and Colorfix 24-hour cream color – according to instructions and the popular beauty brand’s encouragement and “suffered physical injuries.” therefore.” Specifically, they claim that these products contain a range of color additives, such as FD&C Red No. 4, D&C Red No. 6 and D&C Violet No. 2, among many others, which have been designated by the United States Food and Drug Administration as “unsuitable and not approved for cosmetic use in the eye area”. (“The FDA and the California Health & Safety Code closely regulate color additives for use in cosmetic products “, claim the plaintiffs.)

The plaintiffs allege that the 14-year-old beauty brand broke the law by stating that its eye makeup products “are safe for the eye area”, and by labeling and packaging the products in a “false and/or or misleading”, namely, by “omitting important facts about product safety”. Primarily, they claim that Morphe – which has gained popularity through its eye shadow palettes and collaborations with mega-stars of YouTube like Jeffree Star and James Charles – does not warn consumers that products are “not safe for [their] intended use or that the products contain harmful ingredients. It also fails to alert consumers to “known dangers and risks associated with harmful ingredients,” according to the complaint.

Advertising, marketing, packaging and all other forms of communication from Los Angeles-based Morphe, including [its] website, each provides no warnings about known hazards associated with the intended use of the products,” according to the plaintiffs, who claim that Morphe’s website merely includes “vague language and inconsistent statements such as “*Caution: pressed pigments are not intended for use around the eyes. ““In law, the plaintiffs argue that this language – which is buried in lengthy ingredient lists,” is not a safety warning because it does not: (1) help the consumer understand the hazard; and (2 ) it is not transmitted in a way that a reasonable person would see, receive and understand.

Such disclaimers are “unlikely to reach consumers because they are located in the least visible place of the Morphe website rather than a visible place such as landing pages and/or of individual product descriptions”, and in fact the plaintiffs argue that “consumers can go through the entire online shopping process at Morphe.com without ever encountering [its] hidden disclaimer.

Similarly, product packaging “provides no warning of known hazards associated with the intended use of the products”, as indications, such as “a tiny symbol of a crossed-out eye, fail in all respects to warn consumers known hazards associated with using the products for their intended purpose.

Although they (allegedly) know that their eye makeup products are not safe for their intended use (i.e. cosmetic application around the eyes), Damato, Montgomery and Maxwell claim in their lawsuit that Morphe not only encouraged the use of the eye contour products, but actively attempted to circumvent federal regulations by using “deceptive and misleading language, such as ‘artistic palette’ or ‘pressed pigments’. “”, as opposed to “eyeshadow”. The problem, according to the plaintiffs, however, is that “pressed pigments are indistinguishable from eye shadow, [and] the only reasonable and foreseeable use for [Morphe’s] pressed pigments is an eye shadow to be used for cosmetic application around the eyes.

Morphe’s use of these euphemisms allows [it] to sell the products alongside its other eyeshadows even though the products contain harmful ingredients and it is illegal to sell them for cosmetic use in the eye area,” they claim. And the brand “knows, or should have known, that [they] and [other] consumers are likely to be misled by the term “pressed pigment” because the products are packaged, marketed and sold as eye shadow; there is no generally understood meaning of the term pressed pigment; [its] the website does not explain how pressed pigments differ from eye shadow; and [its] promotional images, tutorials and other publicity materials instruct and encourage the use of “pressed pigments” for cosmetic application in the eye area.

Damato, Montgomery and Maxwell claim that they are other consumers “were reasonably satisfied that Morphe Eye Makeup was safe for its intended use, cosmetic application to the eye area”, and therefore suffered damages as a result.

In light of the foregoing, plaintiffs have made allegations of breach of implied warranties, false advertising, unfair competition, negligence, strict product liability, and unjust enrichment, among others, and seek damages in excess of $5 million, an injunction and certification. of their class action to allow “tens of thousands of [other] people” who have been damaged by Morphe to join the plaintiff pool.

A representative for Morphe was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Crystal Damato, et al, v. Morphe LLC, et al, 3:22-cv-02110 (NDCal.)

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