Dry shampoo recall: lawsuits likely to follow, lawyers say

After the Unilever brand filed a recall of more than 1.5 million dry shampoos following the detection of a cancer-causing chemical, lawyers say customers are likely to take legal action, especially as the number of incident reports related to the product increases.

Health Canada issued a recall in October for 1,574,426 dry shampoos under popular drugstore brands like Dove, Bed Head TIGI and Tresemmé following the detection of the chemical benzene. Unilever said that although it does not use benzene in its products, it issued the recall to be on the safe side.

This liquid chemical found in gasoline is carcinogenic and, when exposed to large amounts, can lead to cancers like leukemia or other life-threatening blood disorders. As of Wednesday, Health Canada had already reported more than 100 inquiries, incidents and injuries. Most incidents and injuries have involved irritation and allergic reactions from the use of the affected dry shampoos.

“It can absolutely lead to a class action lawsuit,” BC class action lawyer David Klein told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday.

Klein says if a class action lawsuit were to ensue, there are two specific groups of people who could make a claim if they are able to prove the manufacturer knew or should have known about the contamination.

“The first is, of course, people who have suffered some form of injury from benzene, and the second are those (linked) to the over a million products that have been purchased and no longer have value and should be thrown away,” he says.

Ontario personal injury lawyer Peter Murray told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday that class action lawsuits can only work if all plaintiffs can show they experienced the same problem, which can be difficult. to prove for the first group since the injuries can differ from one person to another.

In this case, says Murray, Unilever could be facing a “mass tort”, which is when multiple individual claims are made about the same product but have similar rather than identical issues. Nevertheless, a class action lawsuit could easily be filed for the second group who had to spend money on a now useless product and who are potentially feeling anxious about using products from a brand they once had. trust, says Murray.

Unilever’s recall advised customers to immediately stop using the products and dispose of them, further including an offer of a refund or refund to customers. How effectively it helps affected customers will likely determine the amount of legal action they could face, Murray said.

“It’s only when there’s a disconnect between doing the right thing and some manufacturers’ pursuit of profit that you really get into a class action or the need for a class action,” he said. -he declares.

Murray recommends that all Canadians who have purchased the product or who have suffered damage retain any evidence they have if they are considering legal action. Evidence such as store receipts, photos of physical injuries, or a doctor’s note will be crucial in building a case.

“It would be nice to know if you have a specific allergy or high sensitivity to benzene exposure, because some people are more sensitive and ‘thin-skulled’ as we call it than others,” he said. he declares.

While it may be good faith for companies to issue refunds or refunds to people who have not been significantly affected, Murray says those wishing to file a claim should read full compensation details and consider getting legal advice first.

“If you’re talking about returning a bottle, that’s one thing, and it’s probably insignificant, but if it’s major skin damage or whatever, then that’s something you might want consider getting more details and informing yourself further before signing. on the dotted line,” he said.

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