Two women have sued Unilever US. Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the parent company of Dollar General and a Texas grocery store chain in Texas court, accusing the companies of continuing to sell hair products that cause severe damage to hair.
The women say they want compensation for hair loss and scalp injuries they suffered after using the “Keratin Infusion” line of shampoos and conditioners made by Suave Professionals, and accuse the retailers of continuing to sell the products despite knowing they cause serious injuries to consumers.
Unilever in February agreed to pay $10.2 million to settle a class action from consumers who claimed they suffered hair loss after using the Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30-Day Smoothing Kit.
The women say they have lost hair, suffered bald spots and still today have “zombie hair” from using the Suave Keratin Infusions line of shampoos and conditioners, and are bringing claims for deceptive trade practices, breach of warranty, negligence and strict liability against the companies, seeking unspecified damages.
“Through an extensive marketing campaign, defendants made a number of express warranties the products would clean and/or condition hair without causing damage to hair, and, in fact, would limit or repair damage or potential damage to hair caused by other hair treatments, and that the products were as good as or superior to other, more costly products available on the market,” the suit says.
The women allege Unilever should be held responsible for manufacturing and marketing defective products, calling the shampoo line unreasonably dangerous and saying Unilever should have known the foreseeable risk of harm exceeded the benefits of the product’s design.
They accuse the company of breaching its duty to use due care in its development and testing of the shampoo and say they failed to use sufficient quality control, perform adequate research or testing, ensure proper manufacturing and production, and take sufficient measures to prevent the products from being offered for sale in an unsafe and hazardous form.
Plaintiff Jennifer Davis says she used the hair care line between February and August 2013, buying the shampoos and conditioners from Walmart, Dollar General and Texas grocer H-E-B. She says she suffered “multiple huge bald spots” and continues to lose hair today, with her remaining hair now frail and dry, along with scalp irritation and rash. Plaintiff Trish Welch says she has suffered severe hair loss and has been left with “very dry, dull and discolored, zombie hair” and continued scalp irritation more than a year after last using the Suave conditioner.
They say their injuries are “strikingly similar” and, like other users of the shampoo, didn’t initially associate their hair problems with the Suave products but instead assumed their hair loss was the result of a serious illness for which they sought medical treatment.
They say retailers should have pulled the products from their shelves or better warned consumers about the risk of hair loss after Unilever learned of the problems with the Keratin Infusion Kit that was the subject of its class action settlement.
A federal judge in July signed off on the class settlement over the objections of a handful of class members who argued the settlement would fall short of what was needed, especially for the most seriously injured among them, whose recoveries were capped at $25,000. The settlement includes a $250,000 fund to reimburse purchasers of the product and another $10 million fund to cover injury claims.
Unilever couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
The women are represented by Amy E. Davis of Christiansen Davis LLC.
Counsel for the retailers was not immediately known.
The case is Davis et al. v. Univlever US Inc. et al., case number D-1-GN-14-002841, in the 98th Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas.