On Friday, a lawsuit was filed against Combe Inc. and Walgreens Co. in the Northern District of California. The plaintiff is a man who used Combe’s Just For Men hair dyeing products and accused the defendants of product liability, negligence, and breach of express warranty after experiencing adverse effects from the use of the product.
The plaintiff, an African American man, said he purchased and used defendants’ Just For Men product in August 2019 for his beard and his hair on multiple occasions. Later that month, the plaintiff shaved his beard and noticed discoloration on the area of the skin where the product had been applied. He subsequently shaved his head and discovered that the same thing had happened there, the complaint said.
The plaintiff claimed that this discoloration is a result of negligence on the part of the defendant, who allegedly did not provide the proper warnings and instructions for the product. One of the ingredients used in the product is reportedly p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which according to the CDC can cause severe dermatitis, renal failure, seizures, and comas. On average, the complaint said, this affects approximately five percent of the population, but studies cited by the plaintiff state that African American men are more prone to allergic reactions, with 21 percent of men experiencing symptoms. In addition, darker dyes contain higher amounts of PPD, further adversely affects African Americans, the complaint said.
As a safety precaution, the defendant allegedly instructs purchasers of the product to administer a self-applied “skin patch test” on their arm for 48 hours prior to use. According to the plaintiff, this test was an insufficient safety precaution and failed to account for numerous factors. including that these kinds of tests allegedly cannot provide meaningful results without long-term testing.
Additionally, the plaintiff said “defendants use ambiguous words such as “small” and “equal” parts but provide no tools or methods to measure the actual amount of each chemical or to ensure that equal amounts are being applied.” He argued that this vague language is dangerous because defendants do not have any information about adverse reactions or any warning in their FAQ section on their website.
The instructions for testing on the package just instruct users to “not wash, cover, or disturb the test area for 48 hours.” The plaintiff claimed that “The burden to comply with this version of an allergy test is too high and essentially unfeasible. The risk of accidental contamination renders the ‘test’ useless. For example, during this version of an allergy test, for two days, Consumers are unrealistically expected to not shower, not wear long sleeves, not rub against anything, not sweat, and not close your elbow.”
The plaintiff concluded that the defendants products were irresponsibly labeled and requests financial compensation for the physical, mental, and financial damage that this allergic reaction has cost him.
The plaintiff is represented by Davis & Crump.