CVS to Face Class Action over Hand Sanitizer Labeling

On Tuesday, a putative class action lawsuit was brought by the proposed class against CVS Pharmacy Inc. in the Southern District of Florida. The plaintiffs accuse the defendant of false advertisement, unjust enrichment, and violating the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act for the labeling of their hand sanitizer products.

The members of the proposed class  include “All persons in Florida who, from the beginning of the applicable limitations period through the date of trial, purchased one or more of CVS brand hand-sanitizers for personal use and not for resale.”

The lawsuit stems from one of CVS’s products, labeled as “CVS Original Scent Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer” and the claims made on the front of the packaging. In bold print, the bottle claims that it will “kill 99.99% of germs.” The complaint said there is an asterisk over this statement which leads to an amended statement that reads “Effective at eliminating 99.99% of many common harmful germs and bacteria in as little as 15 seconds.”

The plaintiffs believe that a reasonable consumer would not think to look for further information, seeing as the defendant used an exact figure to represent the effectiveness. They claimed that an exact figure would lead the consumer to believe that this number was backed by scientific study.

The defendants proceeded to cite their own sources, which claim that many bacteria are becoming alcohol resistant, and that alcohol cannot kill non-enveloped viruses , bacterial spores, or protozoan cysts that grow into parasites.

Furthermore, the plaintiff said that “Certainly, no study shows that the sanitizers kill any given number of germs such that an exact percentage of germs killed could be stated. Yet that is exactly what Defendants have done. Defendants made false statements.”

The class claims that they purchased the product thinking it eliminated 99.99% of germs and reasonably believed that this was backed up by science. They believe this information was misleading and ask that the defendant be forced to make corrective changes to their labeling and also request financial compensation for their troubles. 

The proposed plaintiff class is represented by The Wright Law Office.