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Just For Men class actions removed to federal court in East St. Louis under CAFA; Combe says the cases have ‘no merit’ and little connection to Illinois and Missouri

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 8, 2016

Five Illinois lawsuits with roughly 1,200 plaintiffs alleging men were injured by the Just For Men hair dye products were recently removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The Just For Men manufacturers provided a statement denying liability in the suits.

“We believe the claims made by the plaintiffs’ lawyers have no merit, and we will vigorously defend these lawsuits,” the defendants stated.

John Driscoll and Philip Sholtz of The Driscoll Firm in St. Louis filed the class action suits within the past two months on behalf of the plaintiffs against the manufacturers of the Just For Men products. Defendants Combe Inc., Combe Products Inc., Combe Laboratories Inc. and Combe International LTD were named in the suits. Together, they are referred to as “Combe.”

Combe is represented by Steve Strauss, Dan Ball and Stefan Mallen of Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis.

The cases have little connection to Illinois.

Of the 1,200 plaintiffs, only a fraction of them are Illinois residents.

In just one of the cases, which was filed in St. Clair County by 240 plaintiffs, the claimants are citizens of 31 states and Canada. Less than 1/3 of the plaintiffs in the sample case are residents of Illinois.

And that’s just Illinois.

There have also been six lawsuits against the Just For Men manufacturers filed in Missouri courts. Each of those cases include about 20 plaintiffs per lawsuit.

So far, these Just For Men class actions have not been filed in other jurisdictions across the country. The focus, for the time being, is centered on Illinois and Missouri.

In their lawsuits, the plaintiffs claim the Combe defendants failed to adequately warn against the risks of using the Just For Men hair products.

Combe, on the other hand, says it provided sufficient warnings and labels in accordance with the required guidelines.

“Combe’s Just For Men hair coloring products have been on the market since 1987, with millions of satisfied consumers. The safety and efficacy of our products, and the satisfaction of our customers, is paramount to our company. Just For Men hair dye products fully comply with all regulatory and legal requirements, including the ingredients used, the directions, labeling and warnings that are included with the hair dye products,” the defendants stated.

However, the plaintiffs allege the products create a risk of burns, scarring, allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock and skin depigmentation.

Combe disagrees with the allegations, but urges men using the hair dye to read and follow the instructions completely.

“Hair colorants are one of the most thoroughly studied consumer products on the market and their safety is supported by a wealth of scientific research. Allergic reactions to hair colorants, or any other cosmetic product, are exceedingly rare. Nonetheless, we urge our consumers to be observant of all product directions, and consult with our color experts if they should have any questions before using our products,” the defendant stated.

In a notice of removal filed in one of the St. Clair County lawsuits, the defendants argue that removal is proper under the “mass action” provision of the Class Action Fairness Act, which isn’t typically acceptable in Illinois as most cases have less than 100 plaintiffs. However, because the Illinois suits have included more than 200 plaintiffs in each case, the “mass action” defense stands.

“Although Combe believes these personal injury claims concerning the use of Just For Men products should be tried individually, based on the complaints filed in state court, these cases belong in federal court as ‘mas actions’ under CAFA,” the March 2 notice states.

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Organizations in this Story

Bryan Cave The Driscoll Firm PC

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