The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a preliminary nationwide settlement approval on August 31, 2016, in the class action lawsuit against certain Johnson & Johnson Bedtime Bath Products. Any objections to the settlement must be filed with the court by December 19, 2016. A final approval hearing will be held on January 18, 2017.
The original lawsuit was filed in July 2015 alleging fraudulent, deceptive, false advertising, sales and marketing practices. The Bedtime Products were labeled and advertised as having been clinically proven to help babies sleep better, or to be used in a bedtime or nighttime routine. The Bedtime Products affected include Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Bath, Johnson Bedtime Baby Lotion, Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Moisture Wash, Johnson’s Bedtime Washcloths and Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Bubble Bath & Wash. The lawsuit alleges that Johnson & Johnson knew that there were no clinical studies that proved the products actually helped babies to sleep better. As such, the company had no basis for making that claim about its Bedtime products.
Johnson & Johnson, by agreeing to settle, admit no wrongdoing. It stated in the Joint Stipulation of Settlement that it wanted to avoid the costs and time involved in further litigating the issue. As part of the agreement, Johnson & Johnson must set up a settlement fund in the amount of $5 million. In return, all claims against it will be dismissed. Johnson & Johnson will be free to continue claiming that its Bedtime Products are clinically proven to help babies sleep better or similar language on its existing products, and current retailers and wholesalers may sell the inventory that it currently has on hand. Future labels must be changed to comply with law.
Anyone that has purchased the above noted Bedtime Products between July 1, 2010 and August 31, 2016, has until April 28, 2017, to submit a claim form. If the settlement gets final approval from the court, those that submit claims may be eligible for $3 each for up to five products, if they do not have a proof of purchase. Those that do have proof of purchase may file a claim for up to ten products. Those that do not submit a claim will give up any rights they may have had to receive any part of the settlement.
Settlements of this type make me wonder why the companies engage in false advertising and other fraudulent advertising in the first place. But, then again, maybe not. In order to pay such high awards in lawsuits, the companies must have made much, much more making the $5 million but a drop in the bucket in the big picture.