False representation case against Ultra Ivory dishwashing detergent continues after court ruling

By Charmaine Little | Nov 11, 2018

MIAMI — A popular dish detergent company failed to have all claims of false representation dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida over the alleged use of an allergen in a product marketed as "trusted" and "mild."

The district court granted in part and denied in part The Proctor and Gamble Company’s motion to dismiss consumers Ricky Thompson and Robert Livingstone’s lawsuit against it as well as Proctor and Gamble’s motion to strike class allegations on Oct. 19.

The issue arises from Ivory Dish Detergent’s statement that its Ultra Ivory dishwashing liquid is trustworthy, gentle on hands, and great for dishes.

The plaintiffs sued with claims that the product actually includes methylisothiazolinone, which is allegedly a known contact allergen and sensitizing agent that impacts up to 10 percent of the population. Considering this, the plaintiffs said the terms “trusted,” “mild” and “gentle on hands” falsify the product and executes illegal consumer deception.

The plaintiffs sued for violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff had failed to actually claim a deceptive or unfair practice, but the court said this was not enough.

“Admittedly, the statements plaintiffs highlight—‘trusted’ ‘mild’ and ‘gentle on hands’ may not be empirically verifiable,” the court stated, reiterating Procter and Gamble's argument. However, it said that they were nevertheless more than mere non-actionable "puffery," and declined to dismiss the charge.

The court also denied Proctor and Gamble's motions to dismiss claims of breach of contract and class allegations. For the latter, the court said Proctor and Gamble had failed to establish that the plaintiffs’ allegations were “redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous."

However, the court dismissed claims of negligent misrepresentation, stating that arguments for economic loss did not apply to product liability cases.

U.S .District Judge Darrin P. Gayles authored the decision.

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