Case Update: Motion to Dismiss Granted in PFAS Lawsuit Against L’Oreal

In March 2022, a class action lawsuit was filed against L’Oreal U.S.A., Inc. for alleged violations of state consumer protection laws related to the failure to disclose PFAS in their waterproof mascara products. The complaint alleged that L’Oreal violated numerous consumer protection laws, including New York General Business Laws 349 and 350, against fraudulent and misleading advertising by failing to disclose that its waterproof mascara products contain PFAS. (Verdant Law published a detailed blog post on the litigation, which can be found here.)

In a recent ruling on September 30, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted L’Oreal’s motion to dismiss the case. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate standing, as they didn’t sufficiently prove that the specific mascaras they purchased contained PFAS.

The plaintiffs based their claims on a 2021 University of Notre Dame study that found high fluorine levels in various cosmetic products, including waterproof mascaras, commonly advertised as long-lasting or wear-resistant. Plaintiffs did not allege or provide any evidence that the Notre Dame study had included a review of any L’Oreal products.

The plaintiffs also conducted their own study, alleging that the L’Oreal mascaras tested had PFAS levels above the EPA’s lifetime Health Advisory Level (the health advisory level is the amount of PFAS that is most certain not to cause harmful human effects if consumed over a lifetime). Nonetheless, the court found these allegations lacking in specific details, such has how many samples were tested and if all samples tested were positive for PFAS. Nor, according to the court, did the study link the findings to the actual products purchased by the plaintiffs. The court dismissed the case without prejudice and with leave to amend.