Guido v. L’Oreal: Consumer Class Action Certified

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District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California has granted certification of two consumer subclasses in an action alleging that L’Oreal failed to warn consumers of the flammability of its Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum.  See Guido v. L’Oreal, USA, No. 2:11-cv-01067 (C.D. Cal. May 7, 2012) (available here).

The ruling is notable in part because the defendants had predicated their opposition to class certification on Dukes v. Wal-Mart, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011).  Despite adhering to the “rigorous analysis” mandated by Dukes, Judge Snyder nevertheless found that the plaintiffs had established each of the Rule 23 class certification requirements.  Guido, No. 2:11-cv-01067 at *4, n.4 (citing Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657 F.3d 970, 980 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551)).

Although L’Oreal has vowed to challenge the still “tentative” certification ruling, Judge Snyder’s comprehensive order reflects that the parties have already argued the pivotal legal issues.  For instance, Judge Snyder rejected the defendants’ contention that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing, on grounds that the plaintiffs “would have paid less than [Sleek & Shine’s] retail price or would not have purchased it at all,” had they been forewarned of the product’s flammability.  Guido, No. 2:11-cv-01067 at *8.  As such, the plaintiffs had adequately alleged a cognizable “economic injury.”  Slip op. at 7.

Additionally, the certification ruling adds to the long line of state and federal cases holding that, under California’s Unfair Competition Law, “‘a presumption or at least an inference[] of reliance arises whenever there is a showing that a misrepresentation was material’”  Slip op. at 8-9 (quoting In re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal. 4th 298, 326–27 (2009).  Thus, “so long as plaintiffs establish that defendants’ omissions and misrepresentations are ‘material,’ they may bring a UCL claim on behalf of a class without individualized proof of reliance.”  Slip op at 9 (quoting In re Tobacco II, 46 Cal. 4th 326-27).  See also Wolph v. Acer, 272 F.R.D. 477 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 25, 2011) (class-wide reliance presumed from showing that misrepresentation would be material to a reasonable consumer).