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Laundry detergent manufacturer accused of false ‘all natural’ labeling seeks to stay case

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 26, 2015


A laundry detergent manufacturer seeks to stay a pending class action in St. Clair County over its alleged misleading “all natural” labeling while a similar case is litigated in a California federal court.

Angela Barnes, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, filed the class action suit on Aug. 31 against Venus Laboratories Inc., doing business as Earth Friendly Products.

According to the complaint, Barnes claims she purchased the defendants’ detergent in August at a Target store in Fairview Heights for $8.99 because it was labeled as “all natural.” However, she claims the label was misleading. She alleges Venus Laboratories knowingly took advantage of customers who favor ecologically sustainable products by charging premium prices for its “natural” detergent.

The detergents in question allegedly contain potentially harmful synthetic chemicals – specifically Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone – and are falsely labeled as “100 percent all natural,” “all natural,” or “natural” on its containers, the suit states.

Barnes alleges the chemicals are allergens and potentially neurotoxic.

Barnes seeks damages for the defendant’s “false, deceptive, unfair and misleading marketing and advertising in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA)” for herself and other class members.

Venus Laboratories filed a motion to stay while Baharestan v Venus Laboratories is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Oct. 8 through attorney Daniel Delaney of Drinker Biddle & Reath in Chicago.

The defendant argues that the parties in Baharestan reached a nationwide class action settlement that is expected to resolve the similar claims in Barnes’ case. The Baharestan plaintiffs submitted their motion for preliminary approval of the settlement to the California federal court on Sept. 29.

“The case filed here is duplicative of Baharestan, an earlier filed nationwide class action asserting the same claims asserted here. It is a waste of the resources of the courts and the parties to litigate the same class action claims in both courts,” the memorandum in support of the motion to stay states.

Barnes seeks judgment of the case as a class action, appointment of herself as class representative and her attorney as class counsel, compensatory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and costs.

She is represented by David Nelson of Nelson & Nelson Attorneys at Law in Belleville, Matthew Armstrong of the Armstrong Law Firm in St. Louis and Stuart Cochran of KamberLaw in Dallas.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-491

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