By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - L'Oreal SA on Tuesday failed to persuade a U.S. judge in Manhattan to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit accusing the company of defrauding shoppers by suggesting that two topical collagen products help smooth wrinkles.
The plaintiffs Rocio Lopez and Rachel Lumbra sued in August 2021, claiming that L'Oreal violated New York and California consumer protection laws by deceiving them into overpaying for its Collagen Moisture Filler Day/Night Cream and its Fragrance-Free Collagen Moisture Filler Daily Moisturizer.
According to the complaint, topically applied collagen is too large to be absorbed by the epidermis, the uppermost layer of skin, making the products incapable of helping "smooth wrinkles" and "restore skin's cushion" as the labels suggest.
L'Oreal sought a dismissal, claiming it did not say a moisturizer containing collagen would penetrate the skin or stimulate collagen production, and that reasonable consumers would not believe otherwise from the products' names.
But U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter said the plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the "collagen" on L'Oreal's labels referred to molecules that provide cosmetic benefits, by purporting to reverse signs of aging.
"It is wholly plausible that a reasonable consumer, shopping for cosmetics, saw a product named 'Collagen Moisture Filler,' promising to 'smooth wrinkles' and 'restore skin's cushion,' and associated this product with the cosmetic benefits of the collagen molecule," the judge wrote.
L'Oreal and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to similar requests.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for purchasers of the L'Oreal products nationwide.
The case is Lopez et al v L'Oreal USA Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 21-07300.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Sandra Maler)